Archive for the ‘Not So Random Thoughts’ Category

Not So Random Thoughts 48

November 29, 2017

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. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in 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)

The Scriptures point to a huge change that must take place in man in order for man to be truly saved. Luther’s statement also points to a great change and points to some details regarding that change. This is to say that it is not enough for man to have orthodox words come from his lips, but there must be a great change worked in man. It is not enough to say the words as people believe in our day, nor is it enough to simply live a moral life. It is also not enough to live a religious life and even a very devoted and rigorous religious life. There must be a great change in the soul. This great change brings the sinner from self-righteousness to the righteousness of Christ. This great change brings the sinner from the lordship of self to the lordship of Christ. The difference between the lordship of self and the lordship of Christ is an infinite difference. There are many who want to make Christ as Lord, but in fact He already is Lord and we have no power to make Him Lord of ourselves or anyone else.

The last sentence in the previous paragraph might be rather startling to some, but we must realize that it is important and even vital to understand that. It is God who must take those who are dead in sin and make them alive. It is God alone who can take those who are spiritually dead and make them spiritually alive. It is God alone who can take sinners who are under the dominion and power of the devil and translate them into the kingdom of the Beloved Son (Col 1:13). In that text we can see that all unregenerate sinners are under the power and rule of the devil who rules over them by the power and love of self. A lover of self cannot lay self down and “make” Christ as Lord. In that case the self would be the superior and could make Christ as non-Lord when wanted. No, as long as sinners are under the dominion and power of the devil they are the children of the devil. The children of the devil are under the power and lordship of self (and the devil) and cannot break the power of self. They can become quite religious, but they will not and cannot bow to Christ as absolute Lord until He exerts His Lordship over them.

How many people are deceived into thinking that they are Christians because they profess in words and a moral life that Christ is Lord while they live for self? All that a professing Christian does who does not truly have Christ is sin. The religion of that person is sin. The prayer of that person is sin. The profession of Christ as Lord is sin. The whole time the person is doing religious things that person is bowing to the lordship of self and the devil. Oh how people can shed tears and go on and on in their religious life, but it is all about self.

Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

These people make a profession of knowing God (calling Christ Lord), but they deny Him by what they do and how they do it. Some may indeed make a profession and follow it with an outwardly profane life, but what is more profane than using the name of God and the things of God in the service of self and the devil? These people, even when and perhaps especially when they call Christ Lord, are detestable and disobedient and worthless for any (truly) good deed. A person that uses the name “Lord” in the service of self is indeed worthless for any good deed since all truly good news are done out of love for God and for His glory.

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Not So Random Thoughts 47

November 27, 2017

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. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in 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)

From the text in Matthew 7:13-23 we can see that there are far fewer Christians than those who profess to be Christians. The gate is narrow and the path is narrow that leads to life, and there are but few who find it. On the other hand, out of those who profess to be on that path there is a wide gate and a broad path and there are many on it and it leads to destruction. Then we have the false prophets who deceive themselves and others. It would certainly appear from this passage that people should not be careless as to their eternal destinies. We can see in verses 21-23 that people are greatly deceived and will be deceived right until the moment of final judgment. They will even argue with God. However, their deception does not mean that they are not correctly seen and judged by God. There is no arguing with Him even if one is sincere and one is earnest.

Now, first of all we should keep the context in mind. There are many on the broad road who entered through a wide gate. They were deceived about this broad road and wide gate, and in fact they appear to be shocked at judgment day. When the text tells us that not everyone who calls Him Lord and perhaps calls upon Him by that name will enter the kingdom, this is a powerful truth that should shake people up. Many will argue against that and quote Romans 10:9-10 as proof.

Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation

If we look carefully at the text, we see what people are saying. One must confess Jesus as Lord. However, the text also says that one must believe from the heart. It is not a matter of simply saying the words, but the words must express a true belief of the heart. 2 Corinthians 4:13 teaches the same thing: “But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,” we also believe, therefore we also speak.” The words must come from a heart of belief or the words are a lie. One cannot just say that Jesus is Lord but Jesus must in fact and reality be Lord in that person’s heart. Oh, some will say, but that means that you are putting works in there and so salvation is not wholly of grace. No, that is simply far from the truth. It simply means that the person has a changed heart and nature by grace and Christ is the person’s Lord by grace as well.

What we must have driven into our hearts by the Spirit of God is that holiness and obedience come from Christ and are not in order to move Him to save us. We are saved for good works (Eph 2:8-10) and not saved by them. As Christians we are called to true holiness as a result of being justified by grace alone and called from the kingdom of darkness and put into the kingdom of the Beloved Son. We are not called to do works in order to obtain salvation. The true Christian will be holy and will do good works out of love for God and not as a way to obtain salvation. Therefore, this text is not teaching us how man may enter the kingdom, but instead the passage is telling us those who already have the kingdom in their hearts. The life of Christ in the soul (kingdom of Christ) moves a person to love God and true holiness, but it never leads them to earn salvation. This shows us that those who are not doing the will of the Father do not have Christ in truth. This is a solemn truth.

Not So Random Thoughts 46

November 25, 2017

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. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in 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)

False prophets may speak about God, but they are always about a God who helps man rather than one who is truly sovereign. False prophets will encourage men to do things in order to get help from God or to get God to help them, but they are hopelessly man-centered. False prophets make wide gates though some make narrow gates, but they will not make them as narrow as Christ makes them and they will not make them depend on grace alone. The fruit of the false prophet reveals a bad tree because the bad tree can bear religious fruit but not a true fruit which reflects God’s own God-centeredness. A man sent from God will preach and teach the message of the true God who is always God-centered.

Many false prophets (not all) are well disguised by their sheep’s clothing and they appear to be sheep. The better the disguise the more they look like sheep. The more orthodox they are, the more they appear to be sheep. The more moral they are, the more they look like sheep. The more religious they are the more they look like sheep. The more tied in with some aspect of historical Christianity the more they look like sheep. The more learned they are in the things of the church the more they look like sheep. The point is that it may take some hard looking and real discernment to determine who the false prophets among us are. They are said to be in sheep’s clothing because they appear to be sheep and say that they are sheep. They may even think that they are sheep. A person in darkness may not know that he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. A false prophet can be deceived about himself just like others can be deceived as well. But again, we are not to be gullible in these matters but instead we are to seek the Lord for wisdom and discernment.

While a false prophet cannot bear good fruit, it (the fruit) will have all the appearances of good fruit to those without spiritual discernment. In the words of Hebrews 5:14, “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” People must be trained by grace to be able to discern good and evil. The thoughtless and those who have not been trained by grace to discern good and evil are easy prey for the wolf in sheep’s clothing. A false humility will be seen as true humility. A false spirituality will be seen as true spirituality. The outward husk of orthodoxy will be seen as true and biblical teaching. We must remember that the devil and his minions can quote Scripture and present the truth in a way which deceives. The devil can appear as an angel of light and those without discernment will think that he is an angel of light.

People must learn that the false prophet is not easy to discern and that it takes the Spirit of God to show these things. As it takes the work of the Spirit of God to show anything spiritual, and that includes our own hearts, so it takes the Spirit of God to grant us discernment to see what is behind the sheep’s clothing of the wolves. Some wolves are quite obvious, but some are wrapped tightly in sheep’s clothing and it is not easy to see who they really are. The fruits that distinguish a false prophet from a true one are spiritual fruits and not just external fruits. We must be trained by God in order to discern these things.

Not So Random Thoughts 45

November 21, 2017

 

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. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in 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)

The Scriptures declare with a strong and relentless teaching that sinners are justified quite apart from any works or goodness of their own. The Scriptures declare that sinners are justified apart from any moral goodness or actions that they can do. Now this is not to say that sinners should not seek the Lord using various biblical methods that the Lord has granted, but that nothing they do has any merit or anything in them to move the Lord to save them. In a doctrinal sense people can understand this easier than they can experientially arrive at the point that Luther speaks of: “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.”

The false prophet, however, does not like that for himself and will not teach that to others as others will run from that as well. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. The false prophet (some of them) thinks of humility as within the power of the sinner and so instructs the sinner how to attain a humility (not that many think real humility is needed) so as to obtain grace. But that is to earn grace which is to make grace no longer grace. The false prophet, at least in terms of experience, will not leave salvation in the hands of God and will not try to teach people that they must be thoroughly humbled and broken before God. Salvation completely and totally depends upon the pleasure and works of God. Before man can truly rest in Christ alone he must be broken and humbled to the point where he does not look to himself for one thing.

False prophets are far more plentiful than true ones in our day. We have Scripture and Luther on one side and false prophets on the other. Scripture is quite clear that a person must be turned to become like a child and that it is not up to the one who wills or runs, but it is up to the pleasure of God. Luther is so clear of the depths that a person must be humbled in order to be converted. A person must be delivered from the power of self, the trust in self, and the love of self in order to become one that rests in the power of God, to trust in Christ, and to love God in Christ. This is the work of God in the soul and is also quite beyond the power of human ability. However, there are many false prophets out there who teach how easy salvation is. They will teach that it is nothing more than a human choice, a human decision, or perhaps an act of the free-will. This sounds so attractive, but it is precisely opposite of the Gospel of grace alone.

The false prophet walks around in the garb of a sheep’s clothing and is smooth and helpful (in appearance). The false prophet is not there to ruffle the feelings of others, though some false prophets rule over churches with an iron fist. The false prophet (regardless of whether iron or soft of hand) will always leave things in his own hands or in the hands of the sinner. He may say that we should leave things in the hands of God, but that is not where they are really left. The false prophet will not strive to see the people broken and humbled before the living God. The false prophet will not strive with God to break his own heart in a real sense. The fruit of the false prophet is not a real humility of himself, though there may be the external appearance of it; and the fruit of the false prophet is not a real brokenness and humility in the people. In other words, the fruit of the false prophet is self, self, and nothing but self. That is the bad fruit that comes from a very bad tree.

Not So Random Thoughts 44

November 19, 2017

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. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in 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)

It seems as if we have to look at the fruits of a man to see if he is a false prophet or not, but if we are not clear on what true fruit is we will not be able to discern in truth. If we think true fruit is the numerical growth of a church, then we are settling on something that may not be a biblical sign at all. Since the broad way to destruction has many people on it, then there can be many people going to a professing church who are on the broad road and are following a false prophet. If we are part of a group that is following a false prophet and are using numerical growth as a sign of true fruit, then we are deceived. Numerical growth is not a good measure to determine true fruit.

We can look at this in another way as well. The fallen man is a man that loves others only for the sake of self. As Scripture points out, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32). Sinners only love those who love themselves (which is not true biblical love) and they will only love a god that is set forth as loving them and giving them what they want. The false prophet will set out a god in such a way that people think it is the true God and set out that god as one who loves the people and gives them things. In other words, the people will think that they have been converted and are following the true God because they love the false god that they have heard about. But these people are not converted from their sinful natures and love of self because they are doing nothing but what unconverted people do. They love those who love themselves and they love the god they hear about because that god is also about self. A false prophet can gather many followers if he will simply preach a god that loves the people as they are in their sinful state (this also fits with many legalistic groups as well where people are moral with rules they can do) since that promotes a people who follow the love of self.

The corrupt heart of man is guided and directed by a worldly system (Eph 2:-3) that works on his selfish heart. The selfish heart (heart that does all out of love for self) is easily deceived because it believes on the basis of love for self as well. We can easily see how the selfish heart will follow the way of the world when self is fueled by love of self, but what is not as easy to see is how love of self can be fueled by false religion. Self-love will follow false religion to the degree it focuses on self and self-love. As long as a false prophet can focus on things that promote self-love in the religion, then sinners will follow that. The sinful heart that is full of self-love will follow that path as long as it appears best for self. The heart of self will not rest in Christ alone; it will always want something it can do. The heart of self cannot despair of self by the love of self, but it must be humbled by God. The heart of self 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.” In other words, the false prophet will not preach in such a way as to drive men to an utter end of self in order to look to God alone.

The false prophet will not go after and chase the self-reliance of a heart of self to drive that heart to look to God alone. The false prophet is also deceived about what the nature of true fruit is and so is content with the fruits of religious self in others. How the words of Luther pound at this: “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.” The false prophet will not teach men in a true way that they must be humbled, though he will teach them humility in a way that fosters more of self. The false prophet will not try to get to the real heart of the issue and persuade men that they cannot make the smallest contribution to salvation as this will make men angry. Men will accept that on the intellectual level, but they will not accept it when it cuts to their very dependence on self and self-love. The false prophet can preach self-denial, but it is always a self-denial that self can do. It is a self-denial in appearance and not that which cuts to the deepest part of self. The fruit of self comes from a tree of self and regardless of all the great appearances it can produce, a bad tree will always produce the fruit of self regardless of all the religious appearances of it which is just more bad fruit. All that the false  prophet preaches and does is really the fruit of self. That is not good fruit.

Not So Random Thoughts 43

November 17, 2017

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. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in 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)

The false prophet does not tell us that he is a false prophet. The false prophet does not necessarily think that he is a false prophet. The false prophet is dressed in sheep’s clothing so this false prophet has the appearance of a true prophet. The false prophet not only wants others to think that he is a true prophet or preacher, but is perhaps trying to convince himself that he is a true prophet as well. The false prophet may not be easy to spy out in all circumstances. The false prophet in his fighting to convince himself may be striving for orthodoxy in doctrine and quite stringent in his morality. The false prophet may be what appears to be a dedicated servant as he does many things to help people. The professing church may grow in numbers due to the dedication of the false prophet, but that would not be a growth of spiritual fruit. The false prophet may be a cause for a professing church to grow because of the biblical principle that people love those who love themselves. People will attend a professing church based on the personality of the “pastor” and on his kindness to them.

All of those things, however, are not proof that a person is a true preacher of God. In the Old Testament the proof of being a prophet was that a prophet had to be 100% right. That demonstrated that God was speaking through him. In this passage in Matthew 7 (given above) a false prophet can be detected by his fruits. One must be careful to note what the text says about that, however. If we try to judge what a false prophet is by using the wrong idea of fruit, then we will go wrong here as well. The issue of a false prophet being detected by his fruit is connected to that of a good tree and a bad tree. For example, a tree can be known by what kind of fruit it bears. An apple tree will bear the fruit apples regardless of what people think it is. The fruit shows what kind of tree that is there. The issue in this case, then, is that of a good tree or a bad one.

An orthodox man can be harder to detect as a false prophet because of his clothing of orthodoxy. The outwardly loving man can be harder to detect as a false prophet because of his clothing of love and kindness. The outwardly energetic man who serves a lot of people can be harder to detect because of all those outwardly good things that he is doing as well as the love of self that the people have. The man who is a false prophet may have many people who are unconverted as parishioners and their view of their own salvation is tied up with how they view him. It is not a simple thing in many if not most cases. But again, a person must look to see what kind of tree the person is by a biblical standard of fruit and not just some outward things going on.

It may be a horrible thought to some, but unless it is a time of true revival a true prophet will not have large crowds following him. Prophets were lonely men who had hard lives and were held in disdain by the people, and even by the religious people. The true preacher is known by his faithfulness to God and to preaching the truth. The true preacher is known by true love and that may not be popular. True love is looking after the true spiritual welfare of the souls of the people because that is a true way to love Christ. The true preacher will not just preach true things, but will preach hard things to the people. In fact, a true preacher will preach impossible things because apart from Christ no person can do one thing spiritually good.

The Gospel itself is good news, but it is also impossible for people to attain themselves. The Gospel is good news to those who see that salvation is utterly beyond their own power and ability and that God does it all by grace alone. The Gospel is good news to the broken and the humbled. The true preacher will seek to make this plain to people and will help them to see their own utter brokenness. The true preacher will seek the true good of the people and seek to help them seek humility and brokenness from God. The true preacher will extol the glorious grace of God and the power of God in saving sinners for His own glory, but the false preacher will preach that God does all He can do and then leaves the rest up to man. The false preacher will not set out a Gospel that is beyond man, though he may make it hard. The false preacher is a bad tree and will not preach the impossibility of salvation and the Christian life and the need of grace. The false preacher does not want of offend people, though one can offend at certain points in order to maintain his view of his own orthodoxy.

Not So Random Thoughts 42

November 15, 2017

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. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in 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)

God promises grace to the humbled, says Luther. The Scripture says that God is opposed to the proud and yet gives grace to the humble. Every soul that is born of woman into this world other than Jesus Christ has been born dead in sin which is to be proud and self-centered. A soul must be rescued out of the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of Christ. This is not something that the soul can do itself, but as in Matthew 18:1-4 it is something that must be done to the soul. In fact, this is a parallel teaching with Matthew 18:1-4. The soul must be turned from what it is and become something else. It must become like a little child and as such it was the opposite of a little child before. A very small child is not too proud to receive all from others, and in fact that is all that the little child can do. It is clear from the context (in Matthew 18) that becoming a little child is to be humbled.

The New Testament speaks of a great change that must take place by the hand of God before one can believe, but false prophets will tell people what they can do in their own power. The gate is far too narrow for a person just to be able to waltz through in his or her own power. People must be humbled to the point where they will just receive this grace without trusting in themselves to receive it. Actually, it is utterly impossible for a proud person to cast out pride as that is still pride doing the work. It is also utterly impossible for self to cast out self as that is self doing the work. It is only the grace of God who can cast out pride and self. It is only the power of God that can overpower pride and self in the heart and bring the soul to a low condition of a small child who will just receive all that is given. A deep humility is not what the world thinks, but it is something that God alone can bring and it is that soul alone that can receive grace.

False prophets operate in the sphere of human ability and power, which is also the wide gate and the broad road. Scripture and Luther speak of a great change that must take place and that great change is from a proud and self-centered person to one that is humbled and broken. The difference is huge. The one is the work of man, though men may say that they need the help of God. The other is totally the work of God because men are humbled and know that they cannot do what needs to be done. Yet the false prophets continue to focus on what men can do or perhaps what men can do with the help of God. The false prophet may be very knowledgeable and quite orthodox in many ways, but the false prophet does not realize the need for true humility and true brokenness because he has not had that worked in him. The false prophet trusts in himself in some way, so he is always trying to get people to do something based on trust in themselves.

The fruit of a false prophet can be orthodoxy and can be external morality. The fruit of a false prophet can be a large smile and niceness. The false prophet can be very sincere and quite concerned. However, the false prophet will not direct a person completely away from the false prophet or the power of the self, though it may appear that way in the externals only. The false prophet will try to get people to make a decision or perform some act, but the truth of the matter is that souls have to be delivered from their own decisions and their own acts. False prophets will not guide people in the path of humility and brokenness from their own power and abilities which are the only way a person can come to true faith in Christ. The way of the false prophet is the way of the father of the false prophet, the devil. That way is deception in many ways, but especially in false appearances. The father of lies and the deceiver uses Scripture to accomplish his ways as well. His children do the same.

Not So Random Thoughts 41

November 13, 2017

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)

Luther and Jesus teach us that the soul must be humbled and brought to despair of anything that self can do but look to God to do all that needs to be done. False prophets can be quite orthodox and speak of external things as if all depended upon correct doctrine and a belief of that doctrine is within our power or we need just a little help. A false prophet can be very religious and very sincere in many ways. A false prophet can be energetic and have a lot of zeal for religious things and conservative morality. A false prophet can be an excellent or even a great public speaker. A false prophet can demand hard things of others and of himself as well. A false prophet can speak the external things of the Gospel with great accuracy, but a false prophet cannot speak of the inward things of the Gospel because he cannot understand them.

But again, the question of how God brings a soul to despair of itself is not specifically addressed in the quotes above. If we know that the soul dead in sin is in bondage to sin, self, and the devil we can see something of what needs to happen. If we know that any soul can know nothing spiritual but what the Spirit opens the eyes to see, then we can know another part of what must happen. If we know that nothing good or spiritual can happen to the soul apart from the grace of God, then we can see another part of what must happen to the soul. We can know the state of the soul and what it must be delivered from (sin, self, the devil). We can know that the soul must be acted upon by the Spirit. We can know that all that God does to the soul in bringing it to conversion is by His grace. No one deserves to be convicted of sin and not one deserves to be brought to despair of self. No one deserves to be converted and no one deserves to be brought into the kingdom. All of these things can only come by the grace of God. This must be emphasized.

The gate is small and the path is narrow that leads to life and few find it. Oh, but what good news that broad gate and the broad way are. However, there are many on it and those many are on the road to destruction. It sounds so easy and so wonderful that all a person needs to do is believe some facts and they will go to heaven. However, while that is true in a sense, what does it mean to believe and what does it mean to be brought from a faith in self to a faith in Christ alone by grace alone? It is natural to the soul to believe in self and then to believe in self to believe in Christ. It is also quite natural in the natural scheme of things to believe in things in accordance with the appearance of things instead of the spiritual nature of things.

A true faith can only occur when it comes from a new heart given in regeneration. A true faith in Christ can only happen when a person does not have faith in self. A true faith in Christ can only happen when a person has Christ dwelling in him or her. True faith is not a belief in some true facts by an act of the will; it is what the new heart does when Christ dwells there. True faith is not an act of a natural man; it is the continual acting of a spiritual man who has Christ. Faith is what a person must have, but it is beyond the power of the natural man to do it. This requires the work of God.

The soul that desires to be truly saved must seek God to save it. The soul that desires to be truly saved must seek faith as a gift of God. The soul that desires to be truly saved must seek to be delivered from the bondage of sin, self, and of the devil. However, it is important to point out that no one will desire to be truly saved unless the Spirit has worked in that soul and has worked that desire in the soul by opening the eyes to certain things. No one desires to be truly saved at first but instead just desires to be delivered from hell.

The desire to be delivered from hell is not the same thing as a desire to be delivered from sin, self, and the devil. It is a work of the Spirit to bring a person from a desire to be delivered from hell to a desire to be delivered from sin, self, and the devil. If a person only wants to be delivered from hell that is nothing more than a desire that a love for self and the natural man can work up. That person does not even desire to be truly saved and cannot look to Christ for true salvation. A false prophet will most likely not make that distinction and as such a person will never know what s/he needs to be saved from in order to be truly saved. Beware of false prophets.

 

Not So Random Thoughts 40

November 11, 2017

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)

It is clear from Luther that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for the humbled. It is clear from the words of Jesus that a person must be changed from one thing to another by another and become like a child to enter the kingdom. We can think that the work of humbling the soul is instantaneous or we can think of it as something that takes a short time or a long time. In other words, it depends upon God to work this humility or despairing of self according to His timing. But how long does it take God to work this despair of self in the soul? It takes Him as long as He wants to. He can do it in a short amount of time or He can take His time to do it. Humbling the soul is not the work of man, it is the work of God and as such it will happen according to His will and His timing. In other words, God humbles at His pleasure or as He is pleased to do so.

When we are hungry we want to eat. The idea of eating in modern America gives us the thought that we will go to a place where we can drive through to get our food or go to a restaurant where we can order and have the food brought to us. In ancient Israel things were different for most people. If you wanted to eat, there was a lot of work involved. The food must be gathered or perhaps an animal had to be caught or hunted. Then the animal must be killed and it must be cleaned and butchered. Then it could be prepared and cooked. By analogy we can think of faith like that. Faith either comes instantaneously or it must come by preparation of the soul. The soul is prepared by killing the faith it does have (faith in self) which is impossible to kill unless God does it. The soul has to be hunted down and then cleaned. In other words, this humbling of the soul or bringing it to despair of itself is the work of God and He does it at His pleasure. This humbling of the soul is the way God brings the soul to a true faith.

It is God who must convert the soul from a proud and self-reliant person to one that no longer trusts in self to do anything, but instead rests in Him alone to turn it from self to become like an infant child who is given all things by grace alone. It is God alone who can regenerate the soul, but it is also God alone who can kill the pride and self-sufficiency of man in order that man can look to Him for grace alone. It is God alone who can bring a soul from the bondage of self-centeredness to the freedom of Christ-centeredness. It is God alone who can take a soul that loves self and seeks the glory and pleasure of self to one that mourns for self and then is turned to become a lover of Christ who seeks the glory of God in Christ. These are all the things that God alone can do and He will only do it by grace alone.

These are things that false prophets will not tell you. They have not been humbled and broken and as such they will not speak of such things. Their souls have not been brought to the death of self and as such they know nothing of it. They call people to believe certain things or facts as if all that is meant is to believe some facts and as if it is in the power of man to do so. Until a person understands by experience the humbling work of God and then the work of God alone in bringing the soul to faith that person will not preach the work of God in salvation but will instead speak to men as if it all depended on them. Luther’s quote above really describes what the soul must come to in order to be brought into the kingdom by God’s work in regeneration. However, that quote does not tell people how God does that. The Puritans spoke of this as seeking God. It was human beings coming to God and asking Him to humble them and give them faith as the Gospel of grace alone demands. We are to ask God for faith and look to Christ for faith, but we should never expect it of ourselves. The false prophets, however, do that.

Not So Random Thoughts 39

November 9, 2017

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.