Archive for the ‘Genuine Christianity Rare’ Category

Genuine Christianity Rare 26

September 17, 2014

Though the Lord will never remember the sins of a believer, to his condemnation, yet the believer himself will always remember them to his humiliation. Sir Richard Hill

The reason that this statement just above (by Sir Richard Hill) reflects on how genuine Christianity is rare is because of both the comment about the sins of a believer and the comment about how the believer will remember his sins to his humiliation. Those two statements reflect the weakness of modern professing Christianity because of the different groups within professing Christianity. The weak believer or the believer in a state of great trial and weakness is harmed and those who are not believers but moralists are strengthened in their unbelief. This requires a lot of prayer and seeking of the Lord from the heart.

The moralists, whether they think of themselves as that or not, are those that tend to believe that a true believer never sins and becomes almost perfect if not actually perfect in some way. It is correct that true believers have an outward life that may appear to be virtually spotless, but that is not the case with all believers especially new ones and weak ones. It is also true that not all believers start at the same level of outward actions and of inward habits and ways of thinking. C.S. Lewis pointed out that a refined unbeliever may appear in the outward person and in terms of culture and habits as better than or morally superior to a young believer or even one that has been a believer for a while when they have started deep in outward sin.

True Christianity starts with sinners, that is very true, but it is always dealing with the sins of sinners. The worst of sins are in the heart and mind and are with true believers every day. The battle of true believers is not with flesh and blood even when there are differences with others, but it is always a spiritual battle and that battle includes out own hearts, motives, and intents. The teaching of these things is what seems to be absent the modern professing Church. A person can hear the creeds, confessions, and catechisms taught and yet the true inward battle of the believer with self, sin, and the devil is rarely mentioned if at all. The Gospel of grace alone seems to be rarely applied to the believer when the believer is in a mighty battle with inward sin. A true believer can be tormented by the sin of his own heart and be under assault by that sin and by the darts of the evil one, yet where is this taught today? It is not Antinomianism and it is not against biblical holiness, but is the reality of what a believer will fight against and how that believer needs to hear the Gospel of grace alone and the Spirit must apply it to the heart.

The true believer must come to realize and have comfort in that while s/he does battle with horrid thoughts, desires, intents, and motives day in and day out “the Lord will never remember the sins of a believer, to his condemnation.” It is the blood of Christ that will cleanse the conscience of the believer on a daily basis and not just a once and done situation. It is the blood of Christ that a believer can look to in answer to the fiery darts of the evil one. It is the blood of Christ that the believer can look to for strength and courage for the battle. The blood of Christ cleanses us from the guilt of our sins and the blood of Christ gives us strength against the power of sin. The Gospel of grace alone is what sinners need to hear. God does not deal with His people as their sins deserve, but in accordance with His grace that is in Christ Jesus. It is to His glory to show grace and mercy to poor sinners who hate their sins and battle against them. When these things are not dealt with in the teaching and preaching ministry of the professing churches, true believers are wounded and think that they are the only ones.

The second part of the statement is also a very, very neglected part of the modern professing Church. Sinning believers need to understand that God has permitted this sin and then has forgiven it and yet part of the reason for that is so that the sinner will remember them to his or her humiliation. God does not forgive sinners to help their self-esteem, but He does this to humble them and to drive them from any hope in self. Sinners who are truly awakened begin to see that their self-esteem and self-love is the very heart of their sin. God does not grant forgiveness in order to strengthen the self of sinners, but to humble them and drive them from self which is the very essence of sin. Believers need more Christ-esteem and Christ-love rather than self. Paul taught us that in the last days (however one interprets that) men will be lovers of self rather than lovers of God. That is precisely what is going on in the world and in the modern professing Church today. Self and pride must be died to if the sinner is to be truly humbled and it is only the humble who receive grace. The proud are hardened in their moralism and in their religious pride which is a horrid sin in the eyes of God.

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Genuine Christianity Rare 25

September 16, 2014

Though the Lord will never remember the sins of a believer, to his condemnation, yet the believer himself will always remember them to his humiliation.     Sir Richard Hill

This is a great statement that ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to the souls of people should remember and even stress. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, has taken human flesh and has manifested the glory of God in that human flesh. In that human flesh he has taken the nature of a human being, though not a sinful nature, and went to the cross as a manifestation of the glory of God. In that human flesh the second Person of the Trinity suffered the wrath of the Father and fully satisfied that wrath. There is no wrath left for the true believer and as such the Lord will never remember the sins of a true believer to the condemnation of that believer.

While it may sound antinomian to some, we must state it loudly and clearly that a believer has no condemnation in Christ Jesus. A believer will sin and yet to that sinning believer it must be preached that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. As the believer grows in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, that believer will also gain a keener and sharper sense of spiritual sight and will begin to see more and more disgusting things in his or her own heart. That believer must know that the Lord will never remember the sins of that believer even though they may appear to that believer at times as the unforgivable sin. The believer may have horrid memories of sin before and after belief, which will drive that believe to wonder if s/he has ever believed. But the Gospel of grace alone is for the worst of sinners both before they were converted and after they were converted. The Gospel of grace alone is for believers in Christ and not for those who are moral in their own strength.

While much of the modern version of professing Christianity has indeed been swallowed up by the world and there is no real difference between them and the world, there are also those groups who have terrible forms of legalism and self-righteousness. It is hard to even admit that one is a sinner in those groups. Those groups would look upon this particular post as nothing but antinomianism (anti-law) and be partially right. The law never made anyone perfect, but Christ has. It is true that I advocate that sinners are saved and sanctified by Christ and not by their keeping of the law in their own strength, but that does not mean that the law is worthless and that there is no keeping of the law. It is just saying that saved people are horrible sinners in their own hearts and that they do nothing perfect. It is also saying that saved people see more sin in themselves and their own hearts as they mature. But Christ saved them while knowing all about those sins and His blood covers those sins. It is also saying that the only way to keep the law is to have the life of Christ and His grace in the soul.

The Gospel of grace alone and Christ alone must be preached to believers and unbelievers alike. At times it appears to believers that they are drowning in sin and they need to hear the Gospel, though indeed moralists think that the Gospel is just needed for unbelievers. Oh the streams of glory that flow out from the Gospel and the Lord Jesus Christ and no one ever matures beyond that. There is no comfort for a true believer who is wrestling with his own wicked heart but the blood and righteousness of Christ. For those who are wrestling with their own wicked hearts and see even less than a mustard seed of love for Christ, they need to hear that their sins are never remembered by Christ to their condemnation. They are saved by grace alone and their sanctification is in the hands of our sovereign Lord as well.

Rather than blasting people who wrestle with sins of the heart, though that is far different than the worldly person who professes Christ, they need to see their sin in a way that humbles them rather than drive them to despair. They need to be humbled and broken and driven from all hope in self, but they should not be driven from Christ as if He wants nothing to do with sinners. True Christianity teaches that Christ saves the worst of sinners by grace alone and He is their sanctification as well. False forms of professing Christianity will teach that we must become conformed to standards of morality in order to think that we are Christians. That is closer to being Pharisaic than it is Christianity. God has left remaining sin in His people for a purpose and that is to exalt grace and to humble His people. While believers should flee from sin, they should also know that they will always battle their own sinful hearts and they will see horrid things in their own hearts on a constant basis though they may be externally near perfect in the eyes of others. This view is quite rare in the modern professing Church, but it is biblical.

Genuine Christianity Rare 24

June 23, 2014

What pains do many luke-warm professors take to keep themselves fast asleep in carnal security! If they see their wretched case laid open by any Christian writer, or faithful minister, either they are ready to carp or quarrel with such, of to conclude, that they themselves know better, that the man is mistaken, and that there is no need of so much strictness and preciseness, nor of that wonderful change of heart which only a few enthusiasts here and there make so absolutely necessary to salvation; but on the contrary, they hear any formal, daubing, unawakened minister preach, or read any dry lifeless (wrongly called religious) book, how eager are they to catch at whatever may sooth them in their delusion! and are as much pleased with those who help to lull them in their fatal dream, as a child is pleased to be lulled asleep by the fables and tales of its nurse.    Sir Richard Hill.

In the modern day it is thought to be rude and unloving to suggest to people that they are unconverted. It is seems very hard for ministers to preach in such a way as to point out to people that they are unconverted. This leads ministers (in name anyway) to be positive and try to make the people feel good. On the other hand, certain types will try to preach in such a way as to make people feel good and confident in their salvation that they have prayed a prayer or that they are moral.

Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Jeremiah 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.

The Scriptures also teach us about the great problem of the many false prophets that do and will abound. Part of this great deception that is going on is that there are religious leaders who are deceived as well. Deception goes on in the realms of liberalism and immorality, but there is also a great deception (if not greater) going on within what is called the “Christian Church” as well. The Lord Jesus Christ said with great emphasis and clarity that men must be born again to see or enter the kingdom, but the false prophets either deny that is true or they find other ways for men to accomplish this. The other ways for men to accomplish this are ways of deception.

The false prophets (preachers and ministers) will tell you that the new birth is just a picture of what happens, or perhaps an analogy of sorts. Others go on deceiving by saying that infants are saved when they are baptized and that by baptism adults can be saved too. Some stress that after baptism one needs to take the Lord’s Supper and with those one will be ushered into the kingdom. Still others stress the great need to pray a prayer, walk an aisle, or perhaps sign a card or squeeze a hand. This is a way to get great numbers in the “church” and various other programs to be funded. But Jesus said that a person must be born from above and that this must be done by the Holy Spirit rather than what men can do.

There are ministries across the land that focus on moral issues and conservative issues, but again the great need is not to first become moral and first to become this or that, the great need is for God to do a work in the human heart. We see in Matthew 7 that false prophets will abound and following that we see how people are deceived. Some think that their orthodoxy saved them. Some thought that their works saved them. Some thought that their prophesying or preaching would save them. But all of them were told to depart from Christ.

This real change of heart is absolutely necessary to salvation and yet people seem to rarely hear about this. When they do, they don’t want to hear more of it. Formalism seems to reign in America in many circles under the guise of moralism and orthodoxy. You can believe in the most conservative and orthodox confession that there is and yet be unconverted. You can be as moral as a human being can be and yet be unconverted. In place after place there are dry and lifeless sermons given to a dry and lifeless people and all are deluded into thinking that they are converted. We must wake up and seek the Lord for true life! The modern version of Christianity is no better than the Old Testament Jews who offered up sacrifices and worship to God who told them to take it away. We must wake up and be about waking others up. The delusion of life is simply that, a delusion. We must have God or we will perish.

Genuine Christianity Rare 23

June 6, 2014

What pains do many luke-warm professors take to keep themselves fast asleep in carnal security! If they see their wretched case laid open by any Christian writer, or faithful minister, either they are ready to carp or quarrel with such, of to conclude, that they themselves know better, that the man is mistaken, and that there is no need of so much strictness and preciseness, nor of that wonderful change of heart which only a few enthusiasts here and there make so absolutely necessary to salvation; but on the contrary, they hear any formal, daubing, unawakened minister preach, or read any dry lifeless (wrongly called religious) book, how eager are they to catch at whatever may sooth them in their delusion! and are as much pleased with those who help to lull them in their fatal dream, as a child is pleased to be lulled asleep by the fables and tales of its nurse.           Sir Richard Hill.

What pains luke-warm professors take to keep themselves fast in carnal security? Can that be true? Jesus said that men hate the light and flee to darkness. We see very clearly that it seems so natural to man’s fallen condition in his great pride to hide his own heart from himself. We can see that Scripture teaches so clearly the great deception of the heart of men to themselves and others. But with so much at state, that is, eternity in hell, will men really take great pains to keep themselves fast asleep in carnal security?

Jesus taught that many have entered at the wide gate and are on the broad road (Matthew 7). Is that because all of these people are really stupid and just don’t know any better? It is safer to understand the words of Jesus in the context of false prophets and then a few verses later when He told the people (on Judgment Day) that they were very religious and yet did not do the will of the Father. The heart of man is full of pride and self and he wants to think that he can do what needs to be done to be saved, many times in being very religious. But being very religious is not necessarily at variance with being asleep in carnal security. People can give themselves to religion and yet it is a carnal religion in that it is fleshly and is not at variance with killing the pride of man and the basic self-centeredness and self-will of the fallen nature. Here is the real issue. It is not the choices that people make, though indeed those can be very bad and lead to much misery, but it has to do with pride, self-centeredness, and self-will. These are all things of the very self which is at the heart of the fallen nature of man.

Man can be outwardly wicked from a self-centered heart, but man can also be outwardly religious from a self-centered heart. Man can be very wicked in the outward sense or very religious in the outward sense from the very same principle, the fallen nature of self. A man can commit murder out of self-love or a man can refrain from committing murder out of self-love, but the principle is still the same. Neither man acted or was moved from love for God, but instead it was all about self. It is this self that men fight to keep. It is this self-centeredness and self-will that men will seemingly go to hell over in order to keep. Men don’t want the Lord Jesus Christ to rule over them because they would have to die to self and follow Christ rather than have Christ lay down His scepter and follow them.

Men work hard at deceiving themselves and to keep themselves fast asleep. They work hard to stifle convictions that come into their hearts and the rays of truth that come into their eyes. Oh how men love their carnal security because they don’t want to face the truth of their eternal destiny and they don’t want to face the truth of the things they should repent of. It takes many battles and pains for people to keep themselves asleep in their carnal security, but they fight to do so. This is seen in so many professing churches, conservative churches, and “Reformed” churches. Men love the world and will hang onto the world in carnal security until they are jolted awake and lift their eyes in hell.

Genuine Christianity Rare 22

May 29, 2014

Exhortations to forsake sin, and to obey God, upon Arminian Principles, never can be attended with any good success, seeing they neither shew man the depth of his disease, nor the freeness, fullness, and all-sufficiency of the Gospel salvation; so that he neither knows his own utter helplessness, nor where all his strength lies.        Sir Richard Hill

The old and biblical doctrine of the Gospel was based around the glory of God in Christ and that by grace alone. The Arminian position, regardless of how much it is denied, is a system that demands something other than the pure grace of God alone. God saves by grace alone because that means it is His choice and His work alone. God saves sinners to the glory of His name and He will not share His glory with another. There is only one way to the Father and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone. We cannot obtain salvation by an act of our will and we cannot go to the Father by an act of our own will. We can only be saved on the basis of Christ alone by grace alone and we can only go to the Father by Christ alone.

Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

The text of Scripture just above is a short passage, but it has a very powerful message. Grace is not consistent with works for justification. Even more, grace is not consistent with one work for salvation either. If we take any solution or substance (substance A) that is 100% pure and add the slightest bit of something else (substance B) to it, substance A is no longer pure substance A. We cannot say that one has substance A apart from any other substance. The same is true with grace. The Gospel proclaims the glory of God in salvation by grace alone. If we add one work to it, then it is no longer by grace alone.

Another way to think of it is that sinners are saved by God alone who saves out of love for Himself and His glory alone. If we add one work, for example, an act of the so-called free-will, we have a so-called Gospel of grace alone. That would mean that God saves out of love for Himself and His glory primarily, but not alone. That would mean that either the cross of Christ was not quite 100% efficient or that His righteousness was not 100% enough. There is a lot riding on the “Arminian Principles.”

While it seems so self-evident to some that the teaching of “free-will” is antithetical to the Gospel of grace alone, others defend it vociferously. They tell us with great cheerfulness that Arminians preach the same Jesus and the same Gospel, though Calvinists approach it some differently. I argue that a true Arminian not only does not preach the same Jesus, but that his system cannot allow him to do so. The true Arminian cannot preach the same Gospel as the Bible Gospel of grace alone, though granted he may preach it the same way as many professing Calvinists do. But again, the Bible does not allow for one work in the Gospel of grace alone regardless of whether it is called that or not. When someone drags a work into what they call the Gospel and yet calls it by another name, we must stand firm and tell people that they are preaching something other than the Gospel of grace alone.

The importance of preaching the biblical doctrines of depravity and inability is so that man can be delivered from thinking that his own will can do anything that contributes to his own salvation. The Arminian teaching on this will never bring a person to utterly renounce his or her own righteousness and ability and to prostrate at the foot of the cross looking for mercy and grace alone that is not based on anything he can do. Luther wrote that until a man denied his own free-will he was not ready to be saved. The doctrine of people is not preached to make people feel bad and to manipulate them into a decision, but it is in order to break them from all that they are trusting in other than Christ alone and grace alone. Until the soul is turned from its own free-will and the power of its own will it is not really broken from self and is not looking to Christ and His grace alone. Therefore, “Arminian Principles” are dangerous to the Gospel and in exhorting people to flee from sin and seek the Lord. If “Arminian Principles” are truly dangerous, then the state of Christianity in the modern day can be seen quickly and easily. We are inundated with “Arminian Principles” in our land and that even in the professing Reformed. May God grant us a true repentance from “Arminian Principles” that we may seek Him by grace alone.

Genuine Christianity Rare 21

May 28, 2014

Exhortations to forsake sin, and to obey God, upon Arminian Principles, never can be attended with any good success, seeing they neither shew man the depth of his disease, nor the freeness, fullness, and all-sufficiency of the Gospel salvation; so that he neither knows his own utter helplessness, nor where all his strength lies.       Sir Richard Hill

This is not a statement that would go over well in the modern day. It is so opposed to the modern idea of being nice and winsome and not speaking against other theological positions. It would be especially anathema to those who are trying to work in denominations of various theological stripes. However, all of those things have nothing to do with the truth of the statement. This statement should shake the ground that Arminians and anyone close to that position stand on. While Arminians claim that Calvinists (so-called) cannot be truly moral, the truth of the matter is that Arminianism as a system destroys any real basis for biblical holiness.

The biblical teaching on justification is that a sinner is justified by Christ alone, grace alone, and through faith alone. The biblical teaching on sanctification is that all that a sinner does that is acceptable to God must be done out of love for God. Love for God is a fruit of the Spirit and as such is a spiritual work and is not of the flesh or the will of the flesh. Jesus also told us that apart from Him we can do nothing (spiritual or good). Another biblical principle is that all good comes from Him, though Him, and is back to Him. Any motive or action that comes from the flesh or the will of the flesh, therefore, cannot be good or holy. True holiness comes from God and is out of love for God. True holiness is done in the strength of grace. The Arminian, however, teaches that the free-will is necessary for true holiness, but the truth of the matter is that what comes from a free-will is a will that is free from grace and free from true love and holiness.

The Arminian position leaves man depraved but not totally depraved, so man has something he can look to of himself. If man is not totally depraved, then man does not need to be totally saved and does not need Christ totally. The issue from that position is that men are told to make good choices, but the biblical position is that man needs grace to make any choice that is pleasing to God and the power of grace to carry out that choice. The issue becomes, as always, the tension or battle between free-will and free-grace. But if the will is free, it is also free of grace and as such it is of human works and human strength. If the will is free, it is free of Divine love and as such it is not from God and is from human effort and human strength. If the will is free, it is free of the fruit of the Spirit and as such it is the fruit of the flesh. If the will is free, it is free of the work of Christ and as such it is of self.

The issues cannot be any clearer when one sees this in the biblical context. The will that is free is a will that is given to works, while the will that is of Christ is freed from the flesh and enslaved to Christ and grace. The Arminian position does leave one dependent on works while the biblical position has people depending on Christ and His grace. When the doctrine of man’s total depravity and utter helplessness and inability is watered down, it always leaves men to their own devices and their own strength to some degree. As long as men look to themselves in any degree, they are not broken from their own righteousness and they are not looking to grace alone.

The Arminian position also leaves the Gospel of grace alone in reality, though perhaps not in words, and adds something to it. Anytime people are told that they must pray a prayer or make a choice or do an act of the will and that comes from a free-will, those people are not hearing the Gospel of grace alone. True faith does not come from the will that is free of grace and free of Christ, but instead Christ gives faith by grace. Sinners do not believe in Christ by an act of the will that is free from grace, but instead true faith can only come from grace and sinners must look to Christ for the faith they must have in Christ. Part of believing in Christ is to believe in Christ for faith and all spiritual blessings. The same thing is true of repentance. We must look to Christ for repentance instead of self or we will never repent of self.

The Arminian system is against the Gospel of grace alone and of the freeness of Christ to save sinners by His power and grace alone. The Gospel of grace alone does not depend on sinners to do one thing, but instead it depends on Christ to do all things and that by grace alone. The Gospel is all about the sufficiency of Christ instead of Christ having most of the sufficiency and man just a little or even the deciding amount. Oh no, Christ is fully sufficient and the teaching of free-will opposes that in theory. But the denial of free-will and the setting forth free-grace is rare today, especially if it includes opposing Arminian teaching at this point. As long as the Scriptures teach Christ alone and grace alone, it will stand against the Arminian teaching of free-will and oppose it for what it is. It is opposed to the Gospel of grace alone as the act of a will that is free of grace and love (which it must be if it is to be truly free) is nothing but the work of the flesh.

Genuine Christianity Rare 20

May 28, 2014

There are perhaps more souls lost through a false confidence of salvation than by any other deceit the Devil makes use of. I do not mean those notorious sinners, but among the more decent formalists, who because they have never fallen into any foul, gross sins, or because their lives are somewhat reformed, and they practice some outward duties, make no doubt of the safety of their state. Yet they have no union with Christ by faith; the great renovating change has never been wrought in them; their natures are still unrenewed, their hearts unsanctified; they never saw and bewailed their own vileness; they never felt their real need of a Savior, in a way of renunciation of their own righteousness. They do not pant and labor after higher degrees of grace and holiness, like a true child of God, who can never rest contented with his present attainments [of grace]. They [the deceived] keep plodding on in the same beaten track, vainly thinking to divide their hearts between God and the world and content themselves with a formal, lifeless, luke-warm religion, which only tends to their greater delusion. Thus they go on dreaming of heaven till they awake in hell.          Sir Richard Hill

The formalist is a person that does not pant and labor after more and more true grace and holiness, but is contented with his present state or present attainments thinking (perhaps) that this happened by grace. This is so important to point out to anyone that will listen. This is important in a day of great darkness where it appears that we are in a virtual Gospel eclipse. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of grace and grace alone, but when a different Jesus and a different grace are preached, the Gospel itself is changed. Each person should and must examine his or her own heart to see if s/he is caught up in formalism. Yes, formalism is consistent with a virile form of orthodoxy. Yes, formalism is consistent with a virile form of moralism. The formalist may be a person that is strong on the sacraments and/or strong on creedalism or confessionalism. While confessions and creeds are important, they will not protect a church against formalism.

The formalist just keeps plodding along on the path s/he is on and is thought to be faithful. But where is the life of Christ in the soul of the formalist? The formalist will find religious excuses to be worldly in some ways, if not many. The formalist will not recognize how divided his heart is between God and the world, but will tell himself and deceive himself into thinking that he is walking with God. After all, he tells himself, there is nothing wrong with his hobbies and the things he loves, just as long as he does them in a way that honors God. The formalist will think that the morality of true Christianity is legalism as true Christianity wants to love God rather than just be content with some externals. True Christianity does not ask as the main question about things whether it is wrong, but is it true love for the true God.

The formalist goes on in life with an external morality and even a strong version of Christianity, but this can be but to “content themselves with a formal, lifeless, luke-warm religion, which only tends to their greater delusion.” Formal religion is, as Hill notes, “lifeless and luke-warm.” There is no life of Christ there is no true fruit of the Holy Spirit. Formalism settles for the works of the flesh and deludes self into thinking that these things are the real thing. But to settle for formalism, which is lifeless and luke-warm, is to settle for the type of religion that Jesus says He will spew out of His mouth. Formalism, then, is a false form of confidence in salvation that the Devil uses to deceive and delude people with.

The contrast drawn in the paragraph above (quote of Hill) is that of those who bewail their own sinfulness and then those who with confidence trust in their own religion. Jesus the Christ came to save sinners and not those who are confident in their lifeless religion. Jesus the Christ is the very life of the souls of all who are united to Him by grace alone. Jesus the Christ is the Savior of those who have had their eyes opened and despite their little faith and enormous sin they rest in Christ alone. Jesus the Christ has given those who are stripped of their own righteousness and their own religious formalism His own perfect righteousness. Formalism in the things of Christianity is not just a little dangerous, it is as deadly as anything on the planet. It seems that people who gain confidence in their state before God based on formalism are greatly deceived and this great deception is like a sleep that one never awakes from. “Thus they go on dreaming of heaven till they awake in hell.” “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you” (Eph 5:14). Formalism is the walk of death into hell. Christ is the way, the truth, and the LIFE.

Genuine Christianity Rare 19

May 19, 2014

There are perhaps more souls lost through a false confidence of salvation than by any other deceit the Devil makes use of. I do not mean those notorious sinners, but among the more decent formalists, who because they have never fallen into any foul, gross sins, or because their lives are somewhat reformed, and they practice some outward duties, make no doubt of the safety of their state. Yet they have no union with Christ by faith; the great renovating change has never been wrought in them; their natures are still unrenewed, their hearts unsanctified; they never saw and bewailed their own vileness; they never felt their real need of a Savior, in a way of renunciation of their own righteousness. They do not pant and labor after higher degrees of grace and holiness, like a true child of God, who can never rest contented with his present attainments [of grace]. They [the deceived] keep plodding on in the same beaten track, vainly thinking to divide their hearts between God and the world and content themselves with a formal, lifeless, luke-warm religion, which only tends to their greater delusion. Thus they go on dreaming of heaven till they awake in hell.              Sir Richard Hill

One of the huge differences between formalism and true Christianity is the motives and desires of the heart. The formalist has no true holiness of heart or life, but may be quite stringent in the external life. The formalist may also be quite active in fighting certain evil thoughts in the inner life as well. But the true child of God longs for more grace and more true holiness, which only comes to and through the soul by grace. The true child of God wants holiness and when that is attained by grace it wants more real and true holiness.

Though it may be the case that Hill overstates the case by saying that the true child of God “can never rest contented with his present attainments [of grace],” there is at the very least a strong point in there. That strong point is that the true child of God, though s/he may waver at times, will have a continuing thirst (to varying degrees) for holiness and grace. The true child of God is battered and buffeted a lot and at times thinks s/he has no desire for grace. The evil one will tempt the true child and it is also true that God Himself will withdraw and give the true child no felt desires for grace and holiness, but there is something in the true child that is something like a magnet that draws the person away from certain things. The true child of God will have the same direction from the moment s/he is born from above, but there are times when that direction may not be discerned to the external eye.

The formalist, on the other hand, may long to be rid of external sin and of evil thoughts that disturb the conscience, but s/he has no concern for true holiness and has no experimental concept of the real nature of sin. The formalist thinks it is righteous by following the external commands and the things of religion, but as long as s/he is not delivered from the formalism and self-righteousness will never see the glory of the Gospel and the free gift of righteousness given by grace alone. One of the deceptive parts of formalism (and how that fits in with the United States, at the least) is the thought that one stands and earns what it gets. It is the strong person standing for self and doing it of one’s own strength. Until a person is delivered from the bondage to self and the desire of self to stand in its own righteousness, that person will never rest in the righteousness of Christ alone and will never desire and seek a true holiness which comes by grace.

The heart is so deceptive that it is possible for a person to intellectually agree with the Gospel of grace alone and the need for an imputed righteousness and still be deceived by the evil one. It is possible for preachers to be deceived while they preach the doctrines of the Gospel according to the doctrines that are necessary for the Gospel. It is possible for preachers and others to think that because they know the truth and believe the truth (as stated in doctrinal form) and trust in the fact that they know and believe the truth rather than the object of that truth, Christ alone. It is possible for preachers and all others to believe that because they know about grace to think that they have grace. The deceptions of the evil one are strong and they cannot be escaped unless a person gives up on self and all the manifestations of self and looks to grace alone. Sinner, know that you will be damned forever if you don’t have the true Christ dwelling in your soul. Know that it is not enough to know about Christ and the Gospel, but instead you must know Christ Himself and you must have grace in your heart. It is not enough to know about the new birth and that one must be born again, but instead you must really be born from above. Don’t be deceived.

Genuine Christianity Rare 18

May 18, 2014

There are perhaps more souls lost through a false confidence of salvation than by any other deceit the Devil makes use of. I do not mean those notorious sinners, but among the more decent formalists, who because they have never fallen into any foul, gross sins, or because their lives are somewhat reformed, and they practice some outward duties, make no doubt of the safety of their state. Yet they have no union with Christ by faith; the great renovating change has never been wrought in them; their natures are still unrenewed, their hearts unsanctified; they never saw and bewailed their own vileness; they never felt their real need of a Savior, in a way of renunciation of their own righteousness. They do not pant and labor after higher degrees of grace and holiness, like a true child of God, who can never rest contented with his present attainments [of grace]. They [the deceived] keep plodding on in the same beaten track, vainly thinking to divide their hearts between God and the world and content themselves with a formal, lifeless, luke-warm religion, which only tends to their greater delusion. Thus they go on dreaming of heaven till they awake in hell.         Sir Richard Hill

This great paragraph by Hill points out the great difference between all religions and true Christianity. It has to do with the source of morality and religion. The whole world thinks of salvation or heaven in terms of good works or refraining from immoral acts, but that is also true of false forms of Christianity. Even worse, it is also true of those who are deceived within true Christianity. Those who are deceived use the name of Christ and orthodox creeds to bolster their deception, but while they believe they have faith and they believe in the words about union with Christ, they are not united to Christ. They believe that they have faith, but they are deceived about the source of their faith which comes from their fleshly nature.

Within Christianity there appears to be many formalists, which means these people can have the same intellectual beliefs and the same morality in terms of the externals. This is one reason that it is so easy for the evil one to deceive them. They have the same appearance as true Christians. But true Christians have Christ and are united to Christ because He gives them a real faith by a real grace, which is to say that these things are not just intellectual ideas to have intellectual beliefs about. This true and vibrant grace which comes from the resurrected Savior actually changes hearts and renovates them so that Christ is united to them and they are new creatures in Christ. Their morality is really holiness and it comes from Christ Himself by His Spirit. Yet for the deceived person there has been no real change of heart, but instead that person lives for self and all his or her religion and morality is for self rather than love for God.

The formalist is a person that will confess sin, but this person has never really seen and felt the vileness of his or her heart. This person may know that s/he is depraved by the intellect, but this person has never felt the stabbing and awful pain of realizing that s/he is a sinner by nature and all that s/he has ever done in religion was out of self-love rather than love for God. The formalist sees that what a person does is sin, but this person is not gripped with the fact that s/he is a sinner by nature. The formalist may be sad about sin or about being caught in sin, but this person does not recognize with pain in the heart that the very best thing s/he has ever done was as a filthy menstrual cloth in the eyes of God. The formalist is quite satisfied with being comfortable with the externals and perhaps just a little deeper, but this is not a person who sees self as utterly and totally ruined in the eyes of God. This person does not see or understand just how unsanctified s/he is with a wicked heart. Oh how blind they are to the true nature of sin because they don’t see the wickedness of their own hearts.

The formalist is a person that does not really see the need for Christ in all ways. This person knows that s/he needs Christ to be saved, but s/he does not see or understand how much s/he needs Christ. Every person must have Christ or s/he will perish because of the wickedness and vileness of the best deeds they have done and the most religious acts that they have done. These people want Christ to save them from the worst of their outward sins, but they don’t see the need for Christ to save them from all that they are and have done. The doctrine of regeneration is indeed nothing more than an intellectual argument that they give assent to, but they miss the fact that they are dead in sins and trespasses and that they need to be make alive so that anything they do will come from a new heart that is united to Christ. Oh how deceptive the evil one is because so many are bound fast in the bondage of sin, of darkness, and of formalism.

Genuine Christianity Rare 17

May 17, 2014

There are perhaps more souls lost through a false confidence of salvation than by any other deceit the Devil makes use of. I do not mean those notorious sinners, but among the more decent formalists, who because they have never fallen into any foul, gross sins, or because their lives are somewhat reformed, and they practice some outward duties, make no doubt of the safety of their state. Yet they have no union with Christ by faith; the great renovating change has never been wrought in them; their natures are still unrenewed, their hearts unsanctified; they never saw and bewailed their own vileness; they never felt their real need of a Savior, in a way of renunciation of their own righteousness. They do not pant and labor after higher degrees of grace and holiness, like a true child of God, who can never rest contented with his present attainments [of grace]. They [the deceived] keep plodding on in the same beaten track, vainly thinking to divide their hearts between God and the world and content themselves with a formal, lifeless, luke-warm religion, which only tends to their greater delusion. Thus they go on dreaming of heaven till they awake in hell.      Sir Richard Hill

This is such an important statement about how the evil one works to deceive people that the same idea should be dealt with from the pulpit on a regular basis. We may smile at the thought (or mourn) of those who have a false confidence of salvation while they live in sin. We may understand how people are deceived about their salvation because they are serious about their religion and morality, though we may be surprised at it when those type fall away. But it shocks us to think that people who make a confession of faith and make a drastic turn in their life from immorality and morality. These people are reformed in their morality and they will start becoming more and more committed in their religious duties. But these people are not truly converted.

One of the main problems with how the deceitfulness of the evil one works is that the Gospel of grace alone and regeneration by grace alone seems to be lost (for the most part) in this day. While the doctrine of justification by faith alone as stated in the creeds is agreed to, that does not guarantee or even make it likely that people are truly converted. There is a massive difference between a person believing that justification by faith alone is true and actually being justified by faith alone. One of the reasons for people being mislead about the true Gospel is that they are mislead about what it means to be truly converted and that this happens by grace. Another reason is that people are not taught about the true nature of faith nor about how a person must quit believing in self and free-will before a person will look to Christ alone.

When the true nature of the Gospel and the true nature of faith has been compromised (at best), people will believe the facts of believe from fleshly wills and think that they are converted. If a moral reformation occur, then that is seen as a sure evidence that a person is converted. A moral reformation must happen, to be sure, but that is no guarantee that a person is truly converted. As people can believe in a way that is from their flesh, be religious in a way that is from the flesh, so they can have a moral reformation that is from the flesh. All of this can happen under a cloak or orthodox religion. As Hill notes, these people are not united to Christ by faith and they have not had the renovation of their nature by the Spirit of the living God. Apart from those things, all of their orthodoxy, all of their religion, and all of their moral reformations are nothing but works of the flesh. All that these people do is from their fleshly nature though indeed they may be singing the praises of Jesus who did it all.

It is far better to be a poor broken sinner with many doubts who knows that s/he has a weak faith than to be a very confident religionist with strong confidence. It is far better to be poor in spirit while looking to Christ for crumbs of spiritual bread than it is to be one that knows vast amounts of theology and the Bible with a strong confidence, but all of that is from the flesh. It is better to be weak so that His grace will be our strength than have vast amounts of confidence from the flesh without grace. It is better to have a little grace to where the poor sinner bemoans his lack of faith and grace than to be one strong and confident in the flesh and yet deceived that s/he has grace while s/he has no grace. Yet we have the proud and self-confident running things in the professing churches because they appear to have true faith and a strong faith. The one with true faith may be one that has many doubts and fears while continuing on in his or her pursuit of Christ. The deceptions of the evil one are strong and the world is so backwards as to the nature of true faith. But Christ will keep His sheep despite their weakness and their little faith.