Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Christianity Today 6

October 15, 2019

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.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 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. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

The wide gate and the broad way can be paved with many orthodox doctrines and orthodox men. This is not to say that orthodox doctrines are unnecessary, but simply saying that holding to the doctrine is not the same thing as holding to the truth of Christ that is the essence of all true doctrine. True doctrine can be one set of blinders that we put on that can deceive us like other things as well. True doctrine can be held by the intellect alone, but it can also be held with real affections that deceive us. We can have affections toward the fact that we are accepted by the orthodox and we can have affections that we have essentially the same belief system that our heroes of the past had. We can proudly think (though we will not see the pride) that we are in the line of correct theology that extends all the way back to the apostles. What we must have, however, is Christ Himself and not just a system of truths that has His name attached to them.

This is to say that we must be exceedingly careful and cry out to the Lord to take the blinders off of our eyes and remove the blinders from our hearts. We cannot be satisfied with anything but the sovereign and powerful work of God bringing life into the soul and then that very life of Christ in us. Modern professing Christianity has many obvious heretics operating in her midst, but also has many with the outward words of truth and yet without Christ Himself. Peter knew the true Christ and yet he denied Him three times. Judas was a disciple of the true Christ who seemingly gave up everything to follow Christ, but he never gave up that heart of self. How many heard the very words of Christ and even saw His miracles and yet did not deny themselves in order to follow Him in truth and love? How many were willing to follow Christ if He would give them free food and perform miracles. They would believe something about Him, but their hearts were never changed and so they held on to self-interests and pride.

Oh how hard it is to have the words of Christ and yet to then have our hearts broken and humbled enough so that those words are driven into the heart and they become the very beat of our hearts. Modern professing Christianity has so many popular teachers and so many books that have many people on the covers saying how wonderful the book is. But where is God? Where is the life of Christ in the souls of men? Where are those who are broken over their sin and their rebellion and they are not interested in what they can do, but instead they are only interested in what Christ may do? Where are the preachers who preach as though to dying men and long for them to be awakened to the grace and power of God? Why are people so satisfied with trips to the front of a building and with little prayers said? Why do we have so-called services where it is all done for the people if only they will externally follow a few steps through the service? Where is the living and true God? Do we really think we have domesticated Him so that He will be satisfied with our external rites?

Where can one find preachers who are really preaching an unconditional grace? God saves by grace alone, they may say, but they are always adding conditions to that. God does not save because a person repents and has faith, but repentance and faith are what a person has once God has regenerated that person. Beware of false prophets who teach that you have a part and God has a part in the matter. Beware of thinking that God will respond to you based on what you do. Beware of anything or anyone who adds anything that comes before grace in reality. Must you have a broken heart? Yes, though some will deny that as well and give you other things to do. You must have a heart that is broken from self and pride, but those things are by the grace of God as well. We seek them from the hand of God, but only He can break the heart from pride and self as no one can soften a heart that God has hardened. So we go on with unbroken hearts following the ways of our religion while we use orthodox words to hide the state of our unregenerate hearts from ourselves. We are at ease in our religion while we eagerly follow the broad path to destruction.

Advertisements

Christianity Today 5

October 13, 2019

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.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 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. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

It appears that few people really believe that there is a narrow gate and a narrow path on the way to life. The Scripture tells us that there are few who find that narrow gate, and as such there are many who are on the broad road that leads to destruction. It is not just that there are many who are on the broad road that leads to destruction, but that there are many religious people who are on the broad road. Since the people have entered some form of gate, perhaps one that appears narrow to them, they think that they are on the road to life. Jesus tells us that there are many who have entered the wide gate and are on the broad road. But again, many of those people are religious people and think that they entered through the narrow gate and are on the narrow way.

Jesus Christ was and is truth Himself. He told the people these things and they were absolutely the truth of the matter. Those words were preserved by Jesus for His people in our day as well. Jesus tells us that the gate is narrow that one enters the narrow road to life on. False prophets, though many with orthodox credentials and perhaps many books to his or her credit, will say something opposite of what Jesus said. The false prophet, however, is going to be quite tricky. The false prophet will perhaps set out a very narrow gate and a narrow path and tell you that he is speaking the truth. However, the narrow gate of the false prophet will usually be something that is in the power of the human being though it may be very hard. The narrow path that the false prophet sets out may also appear very narrow, but in fact it is still part of the broad road.

The modern versions of Christianity are not all obviously wrong. Instead, they may have the name of a respectable denomination on the sign. They may have a respectable church creed. They may have a pastor with all the respectable credentials. They may have pastors who can do all sorts of miracles and all sorts of powerful speaking, but that does not mean that they are setting out the true narrow gate and the true narrow path. The path to destruction would not be so destructive if it is obviously the broad road. Just because a false prophet declares he is setting out a narrow gate does not mean that it is the true narrow gate. Just because a false prophet declares that he is setting out a narrow road does not mean that it is the narrow road. We must remember that the Pharisees had a version of a narrow gate and a narrow road as well. It was all based on their legalistic type of keeping the law that seemed like it was such a narrow gate and a narrow road. But they made it up and it was not the one Jesus taught.

False prophets do not always come as the face of evil, but instead they come as ministers of light. In fact, false prophets can also be deceived themselves. They can be earnest about their deceptions and truly believe that what they teach is true. As such, we should beware of false prophets. Both the true narrow gate and the true narrow path are Christ Himself. The soul that has Christ has to be turned from all hope in self and that includes entering the gate by any other power but Christ Himself and by His grace. Pride and self has a relentless grip and a powerful grip on us and unless we are brought to the end of that pride and self and give up and cry out to Christ to be delivered, we will always choose a gate that pride and self can retain something. Death to self is necessary to truly follow Christ out of love for Christ. A false prophet is known by giving people ways through a narrow gate that allow people to retain some little control of self. This is the majority report in modern professing Christianity. We are allowed to retain self whole or at least appear to retain just a bit. But that is simply, despite the narrow appearances, just another broad gate and broad road.

Christianity Today 4

October 5, 2019

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.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 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. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

I read a good illustration recently and I would like to use that illustration and build on it. We can imagine a man coming to us who was cold and did not have a coat and use that as a picture of an individual walking into a professing church. We can imagine that the man who was cold was told about a coat, he was given great lectures about a coat, and then he was urged to believe that there was a coat and that there was a coat for him. But we can also imagine that the man never tried the coat on despite his belief that there was a coat. We can imagine that the man tried to make himself believe that he had a coat on, but he never had a coat on. He remained unclothed and cold.

The above analogy is easy to apply to many in the professing church. They are told about the Gospel, they are told parts of the Gospel, and they are told to believe that they have a Savior. But the problem is that they are never told essential aspects of the Gospel and as such they believe that they have put Christ on and yet they do not have Christ. They only have some information about Christ. God has been left out and people are not told that they cannot believe in Christ of themselves, but instead they are told that all they have to do is believe (as believe certain information). But information about Christ does not save one single soul. Christ Himself is the Savior and not information about Christ. For Christ to be put on (as the coat must be put on) someone must put Christ on. Either the sinner is able to put the coat on or someone must put the coat on the sinner. How can sinners put a coat on when they are dead in sins and trespasses?

What seems to be doing on today in professing churches is that a practical Pelagianism has taken over. That is true in professing churches that have Reformed creeds and confessions as well. Men trust in themselves to put Christ on and they trust in themselves to keep Christ on. They can do this while holding to various creeds and confessions. The religion of self and the power of self continue to hold their hearts while they trust in self rather than Christ. They think of God as being focused on them because they are focused on themselves. They think that God loves them so they in return love God. They are told that as long as they believe some information that they are saved.

The analogy of the coat is also seen by analogies from the medical field. Men can be told the truth that they have a certain disease and they can even be told of certain ways they can be cured. But unless they take the medicine, have surgery, or take other steps all that information will do them no good. A person that has been poisoned does not just need to hear and believe the information about the poison and then the information about the antidote to the poison, but the person must take the antidote and it must be the proper antidote. If the antidote is not applied in the proper dosage and taken in the proper way, the antidote will not work either. We must not only tell people that the gate is small and the way to life is narrow, but we must tell them the specifics about the gate and how that gate is to be entered. Christ must be applied to the soul really and truly and yet He alone can apply Himself to the soul. No one can put on Christ as all are born dead in sins and trespasses. Christ did not come to help the righteous or partially righteous, He came to raise sinners from the dead. When people try to help Christ, even if it is just a little, they show that they do not understand that they are dead and that they do not look to Christ alone.

Christianity Today 3

October 3, 2019

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.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 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. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

The Scriptures are replete with words about deception of the souls of men and of those who deceive them, that is, false prophets or false teachers. In the nation of Israel during Old Testament times it seemed as if the nation was full of false prophets who spoke positive things and tickled the ears of the people, yet the true prophets were few and far between. During the time that Jesus walked on this earth it seemed as if He stood against the flood of false teachings set out by the Pharisees and the Sadducees. It did not take long before Athanasius had to stand virtually alone against what seemed to be the whole world in his stand for the truth of Christ. We had Augustine who stood against the flood of Pelagianism and then during the time just prior to the Reformation it seemed as if the Gospel was rare in that time.

It seems that in the providence of God that for the majority of time (perhaps even vast majority of time) error has ruled in the professing churches of the time. Could it be that we have wonderful statements of doctrine and yet true Christianity is rare on the earth today? Could it be that we have many denominations and many professing churches alive with religious activities and yet without Christ Himself? Could it be that once again the pulpits are full of men with much knowledge (and those without) and yet do not know Christ? Could it be that we are so intent on our organizations, our historical beliefs, and our historical practices that we have virtually forgotten what it is to seek Christ Himself?

The Scriptures tell us that Paul’s heart burned within him as he walked around and saw the idols on display in Athens. While there were physical idols in Athens, not all idols are physical. The Scriptures teach us that greed is idolatry. Pride is the idol of self. Yet we see so much of greed, pride, and self within the professing church that we have to wonder if Paul’s heart would burn within him as he went around to our professing churches of today. A false gospel comes from proud hearts and as such is a form of idolatry as well. A false gospel can come from the mouth of orthodox men and very learned men. A false gospel can be declared from the pulpits of conservative denominations. A false gospel can be declared by men who seem to burn with zeal for the souls of men, yet that can be a zeal without knowledge. A false gospel can be “preached” by those who speak highly of Christ and talk about Him a fair amount. One can even talk about the Gospel and use the word “gospel” but that is not the same thing as preaching the true Gospel.

If it is true that for the majority of history there have been more false prophets than true ones, and if it is also true that not only have there been more false prophets than true ones but most of the time there has been but few true prophets, then why do we think we are free from that in our day? We have men who do fairly good jobs of talking about the doctrines in terms of history and others who do a fairly good job of exposition of the Scriptures, but were are those who set forth Christ and the glory of the Father shining in and through Him? Where are those who are set on humbling the pride of men so that men can see the wonders of Christ? Could it be that in our day many that think they are on the narrow path are actually on the broad road and that men and women are content to tickle their minds with historical doctrines while their hearts are dead in the sin of pride and self? Could it be that our nation is primarily hearing the deception of the preachers own hearts?

Christianity Today 2

January 2, 2019

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.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 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. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

The prophets and the rest of the Scriptures are replete with examples of false prophets and those who deceive. Could it be that the professing Church is more or less at the same place of an apostate Israel? They kept the externals of the religion and yet their hearts went after other things. Could it be that the professing Church is also at the same place as the Pharisees in the New Testament in the sense that the heart of true religion had been replaced with the externals and the laws of men?

There are twin errors that are in the professing Church and yet drag it down with error rather than build it up. There is the intellectual acceptance of truth without love for the truth. Then there is the opposite side that has no regard for truth and simply accepts any form of experience as truth. The deception of the heart is rather easy work of the Deceiver in our day. On the one hand you have people firmly adhering to a creed or an orthodox statement of the truth and think of themselves as converted as a result of that. On the other hand you have people with large numbers of people in organizations that have a lot of religious activity and yet do not have the truth. For there to be a true Church there must be both the truth of Christ and the love of Christ.

A man can be a pastor in name of a large professing Church that has a lot of energy and numerical growth, but that does not mean that the pastor is preaching the true Gospel. If the pastor is not preaching the true Gospel, then he is deceived and is deceiving the people. It is something like Jesus spoke of which is the blind leading the blind. A man can also profess the orthodox truth and yet love himself as orthodox rather than the truth of God. This man is also deceived and is deceiving the people.

Scripture sets out many ways that people are deceived and one of the main ones it warns about is false prophets. A false prophet (pastor/preacher) can wear a white suit, have a white bible, and be the nicest and most sincere of men. Sincerity is not the same thing as being sincere about the truth. A false prophet can have a zeal for evangelism, but that can be a far different thing than a zeal for the Gospel. We must remember that the Pharisees had a zeal for evangelism and would travel on sea and land to make one convert, but Jesus said they were making their proselytes twice as much a son of hell as the Pharisees were (Matthew 23:15).

What are men in worship of when they sing songs in apparent worship? Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:46 that people love those who love them. In other words, sinners love to be loved (in appearance) and will “love” others just in order to be loved. Jesus said we are to love our enemies. The truth of the matter is that as long as a false God is presented people will think that they love that God and as such will be greatly deceived. People like that are really only loving a false god and what they think he will do for them. When the true God is set forth in true preaching, the natural heart of man will respond just like the hearts of the Pharisees responded to Jesus. They will hate Him. This is why men must be born from above by the power of God. Men cannot change their own hearts.

Christianity Today 1  

November 8, 2018

Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

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.

The modern version of Christianity is big business to those who publish books and to those who record music. Interesting, but the New Testament thinks of Christianity differently. “Mega churches” abound and the masses fill the expensive buildings to have their ears tickled. People walk the aisles or raise their hands to accept a Jesus while they have never heard of the biblical Jesus. People speak of God all the while ignorant of the true God. Preachers are paid large sums of money and they will not step on toes in order not to step on their own toes as well as those who pay them. As long as they have some sort of profession or said a prayer they are said to be “good to go” into eternity.

The modern version of Christianity is divided into various groups who focus on what they want to focus on. There are those who focus on morality, yet there are those who focus on doctrine. There are others who are quite legalistic and yet those who are not as legalistic as those are still legalistic. It is easy for legalism to hide in the hearts of those who are legalists as well. While doctrine is necessary, there is an academic approach to doctrine that makes it simply another philosophy. While morality in a sense is necessary, the morality that flows from the life of Christ in the soul is holiness and that is far different than a mere external morality.

A few preachers will use the word “Jesus” and the word “Gospel” and yet never preach Christ and Him crucified. It is one thing to speak the words, but it is quite another to preach Christ. It is one thing to mention the word “grace” here and there, but that is not the same thing as preaching grace. It is one thing to speak of God as being sovereign, but it is quite another to preach a sovereign God. It is far easier to agree that an orthodox creed is true than it is to believe the truths in the creed from the depths of the heart. It is far easier to talk about the love of God than it is to love the true God. It is far easier to profess faith than it is to have faith and then to live by that faith.

Evangelism (of some sort) is widely taught and less widely practiced, but could it be that the evangelism that is practiced is plainly and clearly based on a false gospel? Could it be that preachers who preach on the television and hold crusades here and there are preaching heresy rather than the Gospel? Could it be that the vast majority of professing churches are the product of a false gospel and a pseudo type of Christianity rather than the real thing? Could it be that the United States of America is inundated with a false Gospel and that this false Gospel is what is preached by the vast majority of preachers in our day? Could it be that when a person walks in the door of a professing church that it is highly likely that the person will be misled as to what Christianity really is?

The orthodox leaders of religion during the days of Jesus held strongly to their “Bible” and practiced what was in line with the recent historical teachings of that day. They assumed that they were orthodox and they assumed that they were righteous. Could it be that many of those assumptions are the same today? Could it be the case that Jesus would spit us and our orthodoxy out of His mouth? Could it be that that He would think that our morality was nothing more than external morality worthy of nothing but eternal flames? Could it be that He would not appreciate our fine buildings and our order or so-called worship? How would we know? Are we just following the thinking and practices of the religion of our day as the Pharisees followed along in their day? Do we think that Ephesians 2 just spoke to the people of that day?

Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

What if Ephesians 2:1-3 described our religious practices and not just the practices of unconverted people following the course of the world? Can unconverted people follow a course of the world in the things of religion? Yes, we see that in the New Testament. Can unconverted people follow the prince of the power of the air in the things of religion too? Yes, we can see that in the New Testament too. But how do we know that we are not trapped in the things of a worldly religion or a self-powered religion too?

Understanding Grace 3

October 12, 2018

Colossians 1:3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8 and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

It is so often thought that grace is primary in the initial salvation of the soul, but it is not that important for daily life. However, if we look at our text we can see that grace is something we grow in. We are told in other Scriptures that we are to grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the text we can see (vv. 5-6) that the word of truth, the Gospel, is COSTANTLY bearing fruit and increasing. It does this when people understand the grace of God in truth. I take it that as we grow in understanding grace then we will grow in bearing fruit. We will only bear fruit to God to the degree that we grow in our understanding of grace. The understanding of grace comes to us over our entire lifetime as we are inwardly taught to die to self and yield more and more to the workings of grace in our souls. It is not just a study of books that can teach us about it, but it is the very working of the Spirit of Christ in our souls that teaches us these things.

Once again we need to focus on the fact that it is only by grace that we can understand grace. We cannot work our heads hard enough to understand grace. We cannot apply works to obtain grace because grace is always opposed to works for grace or any blessing. The glory of grace is that we can only learn grace when Christ teaches us grace and yet He will only instruct us in our inner soul by grace alone. It is impossible to obtain a true understanding of grace if we think we can obtain an understanding of it by reading books, following rules, or perhaps by becoming more holy. True holiness is only obtained by grace since Christ Himself is our sanctification and He only gives Himself by grace alone.

It is the Gospel itself that constantly bears fruit and increases as people grow in their understanding of grace. The Gospel bears fruit when God uses it to draw sinners to Himself and they are regenerated and delivered from the kingdom of darkness. But it is also the case that the Gospel is about the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the beloved Son. The Gospel is not just good news in order to be saved, but it is good news for those who are being made holy. Holiness is not some grim work the one with Christ has to do with drudgery, but the eternal God who lives within Himself as triune and in perfect joy and love shares Himself and His love and joy with His people. Grace is how God relates to His people and it is how He makes them partakers of His life.

As 2 Peter 3:18 tells us, we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Surely this is more than just an intellectual grasp of the facts, but instead we are to learn about grace and we are to live in that grace as we grow in that grace. If we grow and bear fruit as we understand grace more, then we should give ourselves with diligence to pursue this grace. As noted in the Bible, however, grace is only given to the humble. We should seek the Lord for humility in order for Him to bestow us with grace. All spiritual blessings are given in Christ and as such we are to seek Christ for humility and grace as both are blessings. We will never have grace until He has humbled us, yet we will never grow in grace apart from a correlating work of His working humility in us.

This should instruct us greatly. We will never grow in grace as we are commanded to do unless we grow in humility. A proud person will never obtain any grace unless God humbles the soul first, so people should seek humility from the hand of God. A person should never expect any spiritual blessings since they all come by grace unless that person is seeking to be low and humble before God. We cannot possibly keep our pride and obtain true grace at the same time. The Lord is constantly working in His people to humble them in order that He may give them grace and then all other blessings by grace. The understanding of grace can only come to those who desire to die to self and pride and so seek those things.

Understanding Grace 2

October 6, 2018

Colossians 1:3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8 and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

The text is quite clear that it is not a matter of just hearing the word of truth, the Gospel, which is all about the grace of God in truth. The text tells us that we must not only hear about grace but that we also must understand grace. There is a difference between a spiritual understanding and the understanding that the natural man has. The natural man, regardless of intellectual abilities, simply cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God. Spiritual things require the Holy Spirit to reveal them. To understand spiritual things one must be regenerate which is to say that one must have a spiritual nature as opposed to being born dead regarding spiritual things.

The Holy Spirit will work in the hearts of His people to give them a taste of Christ in His Divine nature and how He is the perfect image of God. Another way to put this is to say that the Spirit works to show forth the glories of God and how He shines forth in the face or Person of Christ. In the context of our present subject, this works out in the Spirit enabling His people to behold the glories of God in the face of Christ and not just seeing this but enabling them to love and to take joy in Him. Yet another angle on this is to say that when this happens the people of God are being made partakers of the Divine nature (II Peter 1:3-5). God is sharing His love for Himself and His joy in Himself as triune with His people. Still another way of looking at this is to say that God brings His people to Himself and gives Himself to them and in partaking of Him because of who He is they are receiving and tasting of grace.

Christ Himself is grace to the people of God. It is Christ joining Himself to His people (and then living in His people) that is what we know of as true grace. It is when the people of God have Christ who is eternal life that people have the life of Christ in them and that is eternal life. This eternal life is given to them by grace alone. This eternal life is the very life of Christ in them because it is Christ who is the life of the believer. God brings His people to partake of Him because of who He is and not because of whom they are or what they have done. This is getting at the true nature of grace.

Understanding grace is to know this grace from the depths of the soul which is part of what it means to love God with all of the heart, mind, soul, and strength. We do not understand grace until we have had it in the whole of our being and we love God as a result of it and know that the love we have for God is from His grace. We do not do any favors for God when we love Him, but instead it is His grace to us in working His love for Himself in us. The love that true believers have for God is in fact a sharing in God’s love for Himself as triune and as such it is only by grace that we love God. If we do not understand that we cannot love God in our own strength, we have no hope of understanding true grace. All that we do should come from love for God, which tells us that all true works are His works in us and so we never work for grace, but instead we work by the strength of grace.

Coming to the understanding of grace requires us to taste of this grace in the soul by experience. Borrowing from Jonathan Edwards, no matter how much we hear honey described and perhaps scientifically explained, a simple taste of honey helps us understand it in a way that all the descriptions of it cannot do. It is by eating solid food that the body is nourished rather than just reading or hearing about food. Mechanics become much better mechanics after they have fixed cars for a few years rather than just having read books about it. A surgeon is a far better surgeon after practicing as a surgeon for years rather than just reading a book about it. In the same way we can only understand grace when after it is revealed to the heart and mind it is lived in us and through us. In this way we practice living by grace when we actually live by grace rather than just hearing about it. A proud person cannot live by grace and as such we must seek and actually obtain true humility by Christ in order to live by true grace. True grace is only understood by those who are truly humble rather than those who just understand the words.

Understanding Grace 1

October 4, 2018

Colossians 1:3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8 and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

How is one to understand the truth of the living God? How is one to know the truth of God and grow in the knowledge of God and in knowing God? How is one to come to grips with the nature of the holiness of God and how one is to grow in holiness? How is one to bear spiritual fruit in order to glorify God? Are these things important or simply issues that are on the peripheral of the faith? Are these things obvious to people or is this something God has to open our eyes to see?

There are many answers set out for us to consider in the modern day in the amazing number of books that pour out from printers, but the text above is not one that we hear of much. If you want to bear fruit to God, if we listen to the text, then we must understand the grace of God in truth. In other words, the grace of God is not just some words that we can attach meanings to as we like or want; we must understand the grace of God in truth.

It is not just any grace that will do, but it must be the true grace of the true God and it must be in truth. It is not just any grace that will do; it must be the grace of God. It is not a man-centered grace and it is not just something that is of some benefit to man, but it is the grace of God alone that will do. It is not the grace of a false God, but it must be a grace that comes from the true God. The false grace from a false god is nothing but what comes from an idolatrous heart. The true grace of the true God can only come with the message of the truth and that is only through and by the Lord Jesus Christ. All spiritual blessings come to us in Christ (Eph 1:3-14) and grace is assuredly a blessing.

Let us go back to the text of Scripture from above. Paul prayed for and gave thanks for the Colossians since he heard of their faith in Christ and of their love for all the saints. Without going into that point deeply, we should dwell on why Paul gave thanks to God for those in the Colossian church. It was because their faith in Christ and their love for the saints were both gifts and blessings of God and they came to those people by grace alone. They came to faith and had love when they heard about them in the word of truth. What is this word of truth? It is the Gospel. When the Gospel came to the people Paul was writing to what was it that caused the Gospel to bear fruit? What was it that caused the Gospel to bear fruit in the known world at that time? It was when they understood the grace of God in truth.

It is worth repeating the answer from the text of Scripture. What is it that causes the Gospel to bear fruit and for people to bear fruit? It is when they understand the grace of God in truth. We know that we are to bear fruit to God, but it is only true fruit when it comes from an understanding of the grace of God in truth. True fruit does not come from stringent rules regarding behavior and it is not from behavior modification. A behavior that is truly spiritual fruit comes as a result in growing in grace or growing in the understanding of grace. How are we to see the Gospel grow and bear true fruit in our day? It is not if we can get more people to agree with our creed or join the local churches in the modern way, it is only if people truly grow in their understanding of grace.

Will people bear fruit if they can have more holy huddles and grow more exclusive in their doctrine or practice? No, it will only be when they grow in understanding of the grace of God in truth. But, one may say, I attend all the conferences and I read all the books and I have a great study Bible. But again, the question is whether one is coming to and understanding of the grace of God in truth. Another may assert that s/he believes the perfect creed down to the letter. But the text of Scripture tells us that the Gospel bears fruit when we understand the grace of God in truth. Understanding is not just an intellectual issue, it is a matter of the heart and life as well. Knowledge puffs up (I Cor 8:1) and God opposes the proud/puffed up ones. But God gives grace to the humble. If we are going to understand the grace of God in truth, then we must seek the Lord for broken and humbled hearts. Do we really want to bear fruit to God?

Faith and Pride 6

January 5, 2018

Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.

Isaiah 2:11 The proud look of man will be abased And the loftiness of man will be humbled, And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. 12 For the LORD of hosts will have a day of reckoning Against everyone who is proud and lofty And against everyone who is lifted up, That he may be abased.

Isaiah 5:15 So the common man will be humbled and the man of importance abased, The eyes of the proud also will be abased.

Isaiah 13:11 Thus I will punish the world for its evil And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless.

Jer 48:29 “We have heard of the pride of Moab– he is very proud– Of his haughtiness, his pride, his arrogance and his self-exaltation.

Hosea 13:6 As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, And being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore they forgot Me.

James 4:6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

In looking at what Scripture teaches us about pride, we can see that it is something that God opposes and has opposed for at least the history of humanity. It should send shivers down our spines to know that pride is the opposite of faith, and even more that without faith no one can please God. It should make us think and think deeply to realize that the proud person has a soul that is not right with God. It does not matter if people are religious and perhaps deeply religious, without true faith they cannot please God and He opposes them. It does not matter if these people are deeply moral, without true faith they cannot please God and He opposes them. It does not matter if a person gives large amounts of money to the professing church or to professing ministries, without true faith that person cannot please God and He opposes that person.

If we take Isaiah 2:11-12 at face value, which we should, it seems to be shockingly clear what will happen. The proud look of man will be abased. The loftiness of man will be humbled. God will have a day of reckoning against all who are proud, lofty, and lifted up. He will abase them all. Each day a person lives in pride and an unhumbled heart the closer that person is to a day when s/he will be abased and humbled. Each day a person lives in pride, loftiness, and lifted up in his own esteem is a day closer to when s/he will be abased by God. Surely it is obvious that God hates the proud and will humble the proud and abase them at His good pleasure. If that is true, and it is also true that those with faith are pleasing to God, then the deduction cannot be avoided. The proud person does not have true faith and is not right before God.

This should open up a few questions for us and then see the obvious answer. Can a proud person be truly saved? A proud person while proud cannot be saved. Is it possible for a proud heart to work up faith? The proud person cannot work up faith as that “faith” would be the work of pride. Can a proud person humble him or herself so that God will give that person faith? No, a proud person cannot humble self as that would still be the work of pride and self working humility in the soul. The clear conclusion in the matter is that God must humble the soul at His good pleasure and God alone can work faith in the soul. God alone can drive pride out of the soul and bring the life of humility in the soul as that life of humility in the soul is the life of the humble Savior.

The soul of man must be humbled in this life and given faith or it is not possible for that person to be truly saved. The soul of man must be broken from self and humbled into the dust or that soul is not saved from self and pride which God opposes. The soul of man must give up all hope of true faith apart from a deep humility worked in his soul by God who alone can defeat pride in the soul and give the grace of faith. Instead of man seeking to humble himself by the power of pride or seeking faith by the power of pride, man should seek this humility from the hand of God who gives it by grace alone. The only real act of humbling self that man can do is to seek humility from God rather than self. This humbling of the soul and driving our pride is not the work of man, but it is the method of grace in bringing faith and salvation to the soul. One is not truly converted until one is broken from pride which is the heart of unbelief.