Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Grace and MORE GRACE 2

May 29, 2020

Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. 7 What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; 8 just as it is written, “GOD GAVE THEM A SPIRIT OF STUPOR, EYES TO SEE NOT AND EARS TO HEAR NOT, DOWN TO THIS VERY DAY.” 9 And David says, “LET THEIR TABLE BECOME A SNARE AND A TRAP, AND A STUMBLING BLOCK AND A RETRIBUTION TO THEM. 10 “LET THEIR EYES BE DARKENED TO SEE NOT, AND BEND THEIR BACKS FOREVER.”

The sweetness of grace is seen in this passage if God gives a person the eyes to see and ears to hear. This passage is not for the faint of heart, but for those whom He has given eyes to see. We can see the beauty of grace, yet we can see what happens when people do not receive grace as well. Oh how human beings love their own efforts and works, though indeed their Bibles and Creeds teach quite the opposite. Oh how human beings love their own wills and efforts and good intentions, though they may be blinded to their love of those things.

In a sense grace and hardening are the opposites in this text. God either gives grace or He gives a spirit of stupor and eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear. Grace and works are also opposites in this text. Grace is the basis of the Gospel and works are not and cannot be any basis at all. The glory of Christ is seen so beautifully in this text when we see that it is in Christ that all spiritual blessings are given (Eph 1:4). All grace is in Christ and in Christ all that is grace is located. There is no place for grace but in Christ and there is no place in Christ but to give grace to His children. In a sense Christ is grace to the children of God and is the very glory of grace put on display.

The text above tells us that if the Gospel is of Christ alone, then it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise Christ is no longer Christ. Oh the glory of the Gospel of Christ alone and grace alone. “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly” (Gal 2:21). We can also say that if grace comes through the Law and if the Gospel is through the Law (or any part of the Law), then Christ lived and died needlessly. God saves sinners to the glory of His grace and not because of any law they have kept or because of anything found in them. As the sovereign of the universe He can give grace to whom He is pleased to give grace and He can harden those whom He pleases. Grace is high above the works and efforts of man and cannot be touched by all the so-called merits and works of all men put together for all history. Grace, then, is not about the worth and efforts of men, it is all about the glory of God. Grace is not about the worth and efforts of men, but about the glory of God as seen in the worth and efforts of Christ.

The Gospel is of Christ alone and grace alone. If we try to add one work of man to the Gospel, even one work of faith, we have made grace to no longer be grace. If we try to add one work of man (however slight) to the Gospel, we have made the Savior Christ no longer to be the Savior Christ. It is no small thing to add something to the Gospel, but instead it is an enormity of evil that we cannot comprehend. Adding the slightest work to the Gospel is like adding a drop of deadly poison to a drink of pure water. It is no longer pure water, but instead it will now kill. A Gospel with one work added is no longer the pure Gospel of grace alone and Christ alone, but instead it is a false gospel that does not have life but will work death.

We read and hear so many messages today that may speak of Christ and speak of grace, but they also add just a little of this and a little of that. A Gospel message adds nothing of man and his works, but instead it is always about the glory of God in the face of Christ. Israel sought salvation by zeal and works rather than by grace alone. The Pharisees believed in the sovereignty of God and yet they sought salvation by a life of “holiness” which they thought of as trying not to sin. Modern Pharisees seek salvation by correct theology, by efforts at holiness, and by religion and rites. Modern Pharisees seek to evangelize and make others twice the sons of hell as themselves. Modern Pharisees send missionaries all over the world, but that is to travel on land and sea to make one proselyte and make that person twice the son of hell as they are. The Gospel of grace alone and Christ alone is really a true Gospel, but those who add the smallest work to the Gospel of Christ alone and grace alone are being used to harden men to the true Gospel and men get lost in the darkness of religion and of so-called good works.

GRACE and more GRACE

May 1, 2020

Why does God forgive sinners?

Ephesians 1: 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight.

God does not forgive us because we are worthy
God does not forgive us because we turn our lives around
God does not forgive us because we have repented. Our sins still make us guilty even if we turn from them.
God is not moved to forgive us based on what we have done or will do. All we can do is sin.
God does not forgive us based on anything in us.
If God did forgive us based on who we are or what we have done, then He would not do it for Himself and HIs own glory.
God forgives to the praise of the glory of His grace. He is moved to forgive by Himself.
God forgives because He freely bestows grace on us in the Beloved.
God for gives because of His love for Himself.
God forgives in accordance with the riches of His grace, not to the degree of our repentance or goodness.

If God forgives because of who He is and not because of who we are or what we become or will become, then why do we think so harshly of Him to think He needs our weak efforts and our weak faith or our weak repentance? Oh no, our faith and our repentance are works of His grace rather than what comes from us. Why do we think God is moved to forgive us based on something we do rather than because of what He does? Why do we think God forgives us based on who we are rather than on who He is?

Sinners should come to the point and rest in the fact that they are not saved because of what they do nor because of what they have done (sin). Sinners are saved by His grace alone and for the sake of His grace alone. Sinners are saved in accordance with the immeasurable riches of His grace which is to say His grace that is lavished on His children is far greater than their sin. Why do we think that our sin, which is so great in one sense, but so little as compared to His grace can overpower His grace? Sinners must simply cry out to Him for grace which alone can turn their hearts to Him. We are in His hands as the Divine Potter and He can do with us as He is pleased to do. Yes, we tend to think of that in the negative. But that is also true in the positive sense. His grace is so great He can forgive the vilest sinner and He can turn the greatest sinner to be a humble and holy person.

Where are sinners to go for a new heart? They must go to Christ and plead with Him to give them a new heart in accordance with His grace.

Where are sinners to go to have their sins be washed in His blood? They must go to Christ who will only do this by grace alone.

Where can sinners go to be sanctified? They must go to Christ who is their sanctification.

Where can sinners to for holiness? They must go to Christ for any true holiness.

Where can sinners go when have so little love for God? They must go to Christ who alone can work this true love in their hearts by the fruit of His Spirit.

Where can sinners go and how can them go when they feel that death in themselves and they have no power to go? They must look to Christ for the slightest good motive and for the energy to go to Him by the power He alone can give them.

Sinners have no power in themselves and all the commands that they are given can only be kept by the strength of His might.

Sinners must have Christ for the whole of their lives and the whole of eternity.

Sinners must not look to themselves for any help or hope, but even that Christ must work in them.

Christ Alone. Grace Alone. What a Gospel of glory? What a Gospel fitted for dead and helpless sinners?

The Virus and God 3

April 5, 2020

Who is regulating affairs on this earth today–God, or the Devil? That God reigns supreme in Heaven, is generally conceded; that He does so over this world, is almost universally denied—if not directly, then indirectly. More and more are men in their philosophizings and theorisings, relegating God to the background. Take the material realm. Not only is it denied that God created everything, by personal and direct action, but few believe that He has any immediate concern in regulating the works of His own hands. Everything is supposed to be ordered according to the (impersonal and abstract) “laws of nature.” Thus is the Creator banished from His own creation. Therefore we need not be surprised that men, in their degrading conceptions, exclude Him from the realm of human affairs. Throughout Christendom, with an almost negligible exception, the theory is held that man is a “free agent,” and therefore, lord of his fortunes and the determiner of his destiny. That Satan is to be blamed for much of the evil which is in the world, is freely affirmed by those who, though having so much to say about “the responsibility of man”, often deny their own responsibility, by attributing to the Devil what, in fact, proceeds from their own evil hearts (Mark 7:21-23).

But who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the devil? Attempt to take a serious and comprehensive view of the world. What a sense of confusion and chaos confronts us on every side! Sin is rampant; lawlessness abounds; evil men and seducers are waxing “worse and worse” (2 Tim 3:13). Today, everything appears out of joint. Thrones are creaking and tottering, ancient dynasties are being overturned, democracies are revolting, civilization is a demonstrated failure; half of Christendom was but recently locked-together in a death grapple…Unrest, discontent, and lawlessness are rife every where, and none can say how soon another great war will be set in motion. Statesmen are perplexed and staggered. Men’s hearts are “failing them for fear, and looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26). Do those things look as though God had full control? (The Sovereignty of God, Arthur W. Pink)

Pink wrote his book in the late 1920’s, but with a few changes regarding circumstances it is very descriptive of what is going on today. It is so easy to look to scientists, medical people, and politicians as our hope. People are running around blaming people for political gain. While there may be enough blame to go around, that is not the biggest issue and it is not the biggest problem. People are running around with great fear and in general looking to their governments as those having the answers.

If we truly believed in the sovereignty of God over all things, we would know the source of our problem and the answer for the problem as well. Back in the day when people really believed in the sovereignty of God, they knew that in all things God was in full control though He was hidden behind a dark cloud of events. This is nothing more than practical atheism. If the virus that has taken over the attention of the world is sovereign and God is not, then we are in far more trouble than we think. However, if God is sovereign and the virus is not, we should know where the real answer is. While fear and events cannot change the hearts of men from the spiritual death they are born with as that is the sole prerogative of God, yet this should move men to seek Him if perhaps He would grant them repentance.

Some people are indeed driven to some form of religion out of fear of the virus, but being driven to religious activities can harden a heart. Each and every aspect of the virus is under the full sovereignty of God. We must seek Him during this time. Many will be hardened against God and His sovereign rights over human beings, but perhaps some will be softened. The greatest problem of our time is not the virus; it is our rejection of God as sovereign over us. The virus is in His hands and not in the wisdom of scientists, medical people, and politicians. Sure enough we are to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves from the virus, but that does not mean we are to trust in those things. God is sovereign and not the experts. While the Bible states that the hearts of all rulers are in His hands and He turns them as He pleases, let us not think that the scientists and medical experts are removed from His sovereignty. Treatment for this virus and a vaccine for this virus are in His sovereign hands too. Even at the molecular level the virus itself is in His sovereign hands and it is passed on to those whom He pleases and those whom He desires will not get it. But again, He uses means and we are not to be foolish and turn our backs on the means or methods He uses to protect. The point is that these are methods God uses, but His hands are not tied by using these means.

This can be illustrated by the Gospel and the preaching of the Gospel. Preachers preach from the Bible, but we are not saved by preaching in and of itself and we are not saved by the Bible. It is Christ alone who is the only Savior of men. Preachers are one method God uses, but He is not bound by that method. The Bible gives us objective truth, but the Holy Spirit must open our eyes to that truth and the truth is about Christ. It is Christ alone who saves. As such we use methods to protect ourselves from the virus, but we are to know that God is the real Protector who protects as He pleases. He is not bound to the means. It is also true that He may use scientists and medical people to discover a treatment for the virus, but He is not obligated to do so. He must open the eyes of the scientists and medical people for the treatment. We must seek Him and His good pleasure.

God is not standing in heaven pacing back and forth nervously hoping that someone will come up with a cure or a treatment for this virus. No, He is still showing forth His wrath every day. He is also showing grace and mercy each and every day. He is sovereign over each and every thing each and every moment. Our hearts are not to fear, but instead they are to look to His sovereign hand for all good and yet with contentment with what He is pleased to do. We should seek Him for any good and seek Him for protection. However, if He is not pleased to protect us, we are in His hands as clay is in the hands of the potter. It is true that this is far easier to write and read than it is to do it. However, all spiritual blessings come to us by grace alone. Our contentment and our level of anxiousness are also in His sovereign hands. We are to seek Him for those things too. He is sovereign over each and every thing in the physical realm, but He is also sovereign over each and every thing in the spiritual realm. All things come from His hand. By His grace let us rest in that.

The Virus and God 2

March 25, 2020

I heard and my inward parts trembled, At the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade us. 17 Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, 18 Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments (Habakkuk 3:16-19)

The LORD promised the prophet that He was going to destroy the nation. The prophet finally got the message and his response is listed above. But what we must note is that the nation thought they were the special people of God and they did not expect to be destroyed by a people more wicked than they were. This astonished Habakkuk in chapter 1 and he could not believe it. But the LORD told him differently. The things in the list that Habakkuk knew was going to happen are awful things alone, but much more so in combination. Their economy was going to be ruined. Their food supply was going to be ruined. They were going to be invaded by a cruel nation and taken off into captivity. This vision of Habakkuk told him what was going to happen in what is known as the Babylonian siege and capture of Jerusalem, or the Babylonian captivity of 586 BC.

Imagine what would happen to your heart if the LORD told you this was going to happen in the nation you lived in. Imagine what would happen to your mindset if this was going to be carried out by a wicked people and you were part of a nation you thought of as the people of God. How would we respond to that? Perhaps it is much like people responding to things that are going on now. They are hoarding things and acting quite selfishly. They are looking to the government and to men (self) for all of their help. Their real thought of religion is only what it can do for them. Their prayers are only to God for His help to deliver them from hard things or from what is uncomfortable in life now.

But how did the prophet respond? First of all, it was not pleasant news for him to hear and he trembled. However, he said that “I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places.” Even if all else failed, he was going to exult in God and rejoice in Him. He did not look to men for his strength, but to the LORD. Here is the heart of a regenerate soul that is set upon God and loves Him above selfish things and worldly things. Here is a soul that God had delivered from self so that the man was more concerned about God and His glory than all the things of the world. Here was a soul that grace had brought the man to a point where his personal concern and ease of life were not his primary concern. This is simply an incredible passage that shows a heart that the infinite God had worked in. Nothing can explain a heart like this but the work of God in the soul.

It appears that the LORD is wreaking havoc in virtually the entire world though this virus, but the United States may feel this quite heavily in many ways that correspond with what the LORD did with Israel. The economy will be shaken to its very roots. The food supply may not be as plentiful as usual. The laws may change to reflect a new reality. As people are without work and without apparent hope, true Christians must learn to point to the true Hope. But before they point, they must learn to rest and rely upon Christ from their own hearts. It is far easier to have a professed hope in Christ when things are going well and we have a lot of comfort, but when those things are removed our hearts will be stripped to their core beliefs.

Do we want Christ regardless of our outward circumstances? Do we want the glory of God to shine through us regardless of the level of our comforts? Do we pray for our physical comforts or for our hearts to be bowed to Him regardless of how He works? What is the chief love of our hearts? We are clearly told that we cannot love God and wealth since we can only have one lord (Matthew 6:24). Truly we can only be truly devoted to one or the other. One will always be subservient to the other in terms of our true treasure and our true love. Our hearts are very deceitful and our pride blinds us to the true nature of our hearts. During this time of great trial, it would be wise for us to try our own hearts and pray that God will show us our true lord.

The Virus and God 1

March 21, 2020

The news on the televisions and newspapers are full of stories on COVID-19. Businesses are closed and churches are closed as well. All people can seemingly talk about is the spread of the virus and who is to be blamed for it. While the virus should not be sneered at, if it truly is in the hands of an intelligent agent who has all power over it and all things, then perhaps we should at least be as concerned about the One who has this virus in His hands and does with it as He pleases. God is sovereign over each and every thing.

If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it? Amos 3:6

The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these. Isaiah 45:7

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know– 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. (Acts 2:22-23)

Luke 13:1 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? 3 “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

We should not be timid about knowing that the ultimate sovereign is over this virus. It can go no further than what pleases Him and it cannot do any less than what pleases Him. Is one nation worse than another? We can tell from the words of Jesus in Luke 13 that this is not always the case. Is one person more wicked than another when s/he is struck with the disease or dies because of the disease? No, this is in the hands of God. Should true believers not use things to kill germs on their hands or avoid large gatherings? No, this does not mean that. It simply means that despite our best efforts God will bring this to those whom He pleases and protect those whom He pleases so when we use soap or antibacterial wipes, we are to look to Him in all of this.

Now while we are to use outward things to kill germs, we should beware that the most serious issue is with our hearts. The fact that COVID-19 has arrived in our land does not negate that the Greatest Commandment which is still to love God with all of our being. We are still to rest in Christ as Lord of all. We are still commanded to be anxious for nothing. We are still commanded to rejoice in the Lord. Why are we commanded to be anxious for nothing? It is because the Lord is near and because the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. But of course that is for true believers and not just those who make a religious profession. It is in Christ that a person has his or her heart and mind guarded with the peace of God.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7).

Without arguing about the dangers of the virus or any actions we are to take toward it, a greater danger lurks. That greater danger is in trusting things rather than God. Should we have more fear of the virus or of the God who has the virus in His hands to do with as He pleases? Should we be more concerned with our physical well-being in this time or of our spiritual state? Can this virus jump out of the hands of the sovereign God and be out of His control even for one moment? Can this virus do anything apart from the will of the one and only sovereign God? In Isaiah 40 we are told of the greatness of God as compared with creation: “All the nations are as nothing before Him, They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless” (v. 17).
This virus and all others are as nothing before Him and all of them together are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless. We are not in the hands of an infinite virus; we are in the hands of a sovereign God who is infinite. The virus can do no more than kill us, so we are not to fear it (in this sense) but we are to fear Him who can cast us into hell both body and soul (Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:5). While the news is full of stories about how awful this virus is and how much damage it can do, it is ignoring the real truth behind the virus. It is also ignoring the real threat to every human being.

When the pagan people and king of Nineveh (in Jonah) heard that judgment was coming upon them, they sought the LORD concerning the calamity that was coming. The king decreed that man and beast not eat and drink and instead they were to seek God. While fasting may not be the best for all, seeking the LORD is best for all. But we must always remember that we cannot come to God unless we go to Him through Christ and by grace. We are to go to the throne of grace to seek grace. Coming to God in these times does not excuse us from loving Him more than we love our health and safety. This is to say that we cannot seek Him truly apart from His giving us grace to do so. We cannot love Him truly apart from His shedding that love abroad in our hearts. We cannot be before Him without being anxious unless He gives us hearts that rest in Christ alone and His sovereign hand alone.

Our bodies and our souls are always in complete dependence upon Him whether we recognize it or not. We must seek Him for all things out of love for Him and His glory, yet we must seek those things from His hand and knowing that they come by grace alone. We must seek Him for true humility and the emptying of self and pride from our hearts. A great trial has come upon us and it should not drive us away from resting in Him alone, but should drive us to Him for the grace to rest in Him alone. Our hopes must not be in vaccinations, inoculations, and cures for the disease; but instead our hope is to be in Him and Him alone. He alone can work those things in the hearts of scientists and doctors but He can also blind them to those things. Truly we are in His hands and why should we want to be anywhere else? We are sheep to be slaughtered if He is pleased to do so, but we also know that to be absent from the body is to be with Christ. May He grant us a true seeking of Him and a true spiritual awakening during this time.

Christianity Today 18

March 13, 2020

When the long-standing pillars of orthodox theology and sound doctrine are abandoned, the overwhelming floods of error rush in to destroy what is left. I have attempted to detail those errors in this book, however, not everything covered in each sermon can be summarized here.

Although error has always been present in the church, the false theology which is so prevalent today gained a foothold under the Pelagian teachings of Nathaniel Taylor at Yale University who altered many basic Christian doctrines including man’s depravity, God’s sovereignty, Christ’s atonement, and regeneration, Taylor’s erroneous teachings were put into practice by Charles Finney who applied them to evangelism and introduced his New Measures into numerous churches through his revival meetings. Few pastors were willing to question Finney’s methods at the same time due to what seemed to be the apparent success he was having. Jonathan Edwards and 21st Century Evangelicalism, William C. Nichols

Romans 3:10 THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; 12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” 13 “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,” “THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”; 14 “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”; 15 “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, 16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, 17 AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.” 18 “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”

When the doctrines regarding man’s depravity and the sovereignty of God are diluted, in a manner of speaking, God is viewed as lacking something and man is viewed as essentially being sovereign over himself. What happens is that man is thought to be able to change himself and God is thought to be unable to change man. This is not just a minor difference, but instead it is virtually a complete overthrow of the doctrine of God and of man. Instead of man seeking God to change him, it becomes God seeking man to change himself. This is backwards.

If we truly took Romans 3:10-18 (quoted above) to heart, this could be seen quite clearly. The Bible teaches that there is not one who is righteous, which we should see that not one person has even a little righteousness. The Bible teaches that not one person understands, which teaches us that not one unregenerate person has any spiritual understanding at all. The unregenerate person has zero spiritual understanding. Yet, in our modern way of evangelism and “Christian” sanctification this is not recognized at all. Man is completely dependent upon God spiritual understanding and He gives it by grace alone. It is His sovereign act and not the act of man.

Man is completely unable to seek after God until he is regenerated by God. Now this is not the same think as the older way of evangelism which taught that man is to seek God. The older way of evangelism taught that man should do all that is in his natural power to seek after God, but it recognized that an unregenerate person could not truly seek God out of love. Man was to seek God in the sense that man would try to understand his sinful nature as best he could while asking God to show him more. Man was to seek God by sitting under true preaching and reading the Bible while asking God to open his eyes and grant him a new heart. But man was never thought to be truly seeking God Himself out of love.

The unregenerate man would seek God for something, but what man sought from God came from a heart full of self and self-love. When a person seeks something from God based on self-love, that person is not seeking God Himself but is instead seeking self out of self-love. This is a vital distinction between the old ways and the modern ways. The modern day has people seeking self out of self-love and yet they are taught that this is seeking God because His name is attached. A person can be extremely religious and extremely given to the rites of religion and external morality and yet without true love for God all that they do is truly idolatry since it is motivated by love of self and done for selfish goals. But again, when we dilute the teachings on depravity and the sovereignty of God we have moved from biblical Christianity to a religion of self. The old way had man seeking God to change man and now we have men seeking God to change God. The teachings of the modern day are truly dangerous at best.

Christianity Today 17

March 1, 2020

When the long-standing pillars of orthodox theology and sound doctrine are abandoned, the overwhelming floods of error rush in to destroy what is left. I have attempted to detail those errors in this book, however, not everything covered in each sermon can be summarized here.

Although error has always been present in the church, the false theology which is so prevalent today gained a foothold under the Pelagian teachings of Nathaniel Taylor at Yale University who altered many basic Christian doctrines including man’s depravity, God’s sovereignty, Christ’s atonement, and regeneration, Taylor’s erroneous teachings were put into practice by Charles Finney who applied them to evangelism and introduced his New Measures into numerous churches through his revival meetings. Few pastors were willing to question Finney’s methods at the same time due to what seemed to be the apparent success he was having. Jonathan Edwards and 21st Century Evangelicalism, William C. Nichols

The heart of all true Christian doctrine is God. We must always keep this in mind because when the heart of our doctrine becomes man, then our doctrine is built on idolatry. When men turn from the biblical teaching of man’s depravity, then man has enough good (according to that teaching) to do good of himself and perhaps even to contribute something to his salvation. It seems as if the flood of error has swept into the Church in times past to drastically and fatally change the teaching about man. The Bible teaches us things that are not pleasant to hear, yet if they are true we must not change that teaching.

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.

In Ephesians 2 we see what man is by nature. In Romans 3 (dealt with later) we see the view that God has of man. Man is born dead in trespasses and sins. It is not just that man sins on occasion, but man is born that way. It is not just that sin is something grievous and obvious to all, but man sins by simply following the course of the world doing what seems normal to the world. Man is by nature a child of wrath. It is not just that man becomes evil by doing evil things, but man is a child of wrath by his or her very nature. This is cutting to the pride of those who think that they are good people and righteous people. Man is left entirely helpless as he is spiritually dead. Man cannot change his own nature and give himself a spiritual heart, but instead man is left to the mercy and grace of God. However, man hates that and wants all things in his own hands.

But what we can easily see is that if we change the condition of man and what he is by nature, then the Gospel of Christ that saves man will change as well. If the problem is that of man’s nature, then the nature must change in order for man to be saved. If the problem is simply that man makes wrong choices, then all man has to do is to make a good choice or a right choice. But again, if the problem is the nature of man, then man cannot change his own nature and man must have his heart changed by the act and choice of God. This is entirely different from the way that the professing Church functions and operates today. We may accept a sick man we need to tell some good news to, but we will not have the biblical teaching of man being dead in sins and trespasses. We may accept a sick man who is weak to teach, but we do not want men who are utterly helpless and without any strength at all.

Surely it is obvious that how we teach depravity is very important in terms of evangelism, the growth of believers, and of the life of the church. As our minds strive for consistency, if we do not hold to the biblical teaching on depravity, we will change the teachings regarding the sovereignty of God and of what is needed to save human souls. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born from above to see and enter the kingdom. He also told Nicodemus that it was the Spirit who must do that work. He never told Nicodemus to pray a prayer or make a choice for Jesus. People who are dead in sins and trespasses need to be made alive. Those who are by nature children of wrath need a new nature. Only God can make people alive and only God can change a person’s nature. Thus it is easy to see that if we change the teaching on depravity we will change our teaching on the character of God and the Gospel of God. This is what Finney did and it is still rampant today.

Christianity Today 16

February 25, 2020

When the long-standing pillars of orthodox theology and sound doctrine are abandoned, the overwhelming floods of error rush in to destroy what is left. I have attempted to detail those errors in this book, however, not everything covered in each sermon can be summarized here.

Although error has always been present in the church, the false theology which is so prevalent today gained a foothold under the Pelagian teachings of Nathaniel Taylor at Yale University who altered many basic Christian doctrines including man’s depravity, God’s sovereignty, Christ’s atonement, and regeneration, Taylor’s erroneous teachings were put into practice by Charles Finney who applied them to evangelism and introduced his New Measures into numerous churches through his revival meetings. Few pastors were willing to question Finney’s methods at the same time due to what seemed to be the apparent success he was having. Jonathan Edwards and 21st Century Evangelicalism, William C. Nichols

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them…24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

What does it mean to abandon sound doctrine and the long-standing pillars of orthodox theology? While it can mean for people to simply leave it all behind, it can also mean leaving the doctrinal creeds in place and yet abandon them by leaving them in a way that appears to be a slight move away from them. It can also mean having a practice that is not in accordance with the truth.

It appears to be easier for people to give up an intellectual belief than it is to give up a practice, though the two are related. Giving up an intellectual belief may be as easy as simply changing the mind, but to give up a practice may be giving up multiple intellectual beliefs, something the heart is set on, not to mention the pride that the practice may have brought. Giving up a practice may also require giving up self-righteousness. For example, if a person has spent many years practicing evangelism a person may have a lot of spiritual pride and righteousness built up over the years. That person may think of him or herself as a soul winner. That person may have built confidence in salvation because of the apparent success of that evangelism. A person may defend that evangelistic practice to the death because of all the self-interest in it. However, that person may not realize that in order to practice that form of evangelism sound doctrine of the heart may have been left behind.

Forsaking the Lord is a terrible sin. Despite what our eyes see, God judges sin by turning people over to hardened hearts and therefore more sin. This is one reason that evil comes flooding in when people turn from sound doctrine. The real problem of leaving sound doctrine is that at the heart of the leaving of sound doctrine is a turning from the Lord or an exchanging the truth of God for a lie. Since the whole of theology is really a doctrine of God in the essence of it all bad theology is a turning from the Lord to some degree. For example, people may not realize just how much theology is underneath the practice of evangelism. We can reject God by humanistic evangelism though we think our evangelism is a good thing. We can commit idolatry by being more concerned with getting “converts” than we are with the glory of God. We can commit idolatry by loving ourselves or other sinners in evangelism rather than God.

It is also true that when we become more man-centered in evangelism we water down the truth of the Gospel because the Gospel is always the Gospel of God and the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ. When our evangelism reflects a theology that is a turning from God, we are opening the door and allowing for floods of error to come into our own hearts and the local church as well. If a person wrote a book on evangelism and it would be based on humanism and is idolatry in practice, that error would spread. When Charles Finney took up his false form of evangelism, it was based on theological error and as he went out spreading his error, floods of error swept into the churches where he held his campaigns. He wrote books and that error spread even further. That great error has dominated professing Christianity to this day. We must beware of stepping away from sound doctrine.

Christianity Today 15

February 18, 2020

When the long-standing pillars of orthodox theology and sound doctrine are abandoned, the overwhelming floods of error rush in to destroy what is left. I have attempted to detail those errors in this book, however, not everything covered in each sermon can be summarized here.

Although error has always been present in the church, the false theology which is so prevalent today gained a foothold under the Pelagian teachings of Nathaniel Taylor at Yale University who altered many basic Christian doctrines including man’s depravity, God’s sovereignty, Christ’s atonement, and regeneration, Taylor’s erroneous teachings were put into practice by Charles Finney who applied them to evangelism and introduced his New Measures into numerous churches through his revival meetings. Few pastors were willing to question Finney’s methods at the same time due to what seemed to be the apparent success he was having. Jonathan Edwards and 21st Century Evangelicalism, William C. Nichols

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them…24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

As God turns absolute pagans over to sinful hearts when they suppress the truth in unrighteousness, so He will turn the hearts of professing churches and very religious men over to sinful hearts when they suppress the truth in unrighteousness. There is no way to suppress the truth in righteousness, so all suppression of the truth is in unrighteousness. Both the religious and the irreligious exchange the truth of God for a lie and so end up worshipping and serving the creature (usually self) rather than God. But this can happen in the name of God as well. This can happen when the professing churches have orthodox creeds and pastors who speak well.

The first sentence in the quote at the top of the page is devastating and should strike terror to hearts that are not hardened. “When the long-standing pillars of orthodox theology and sound doctrine are abandoned, the overwhelming floods of error rush in to destroy what is left.” How much deviation from sound doctrine does it take to abandon sound doctrine? We may not know just how much it takes, but what we can know is that a slight deviation may lead to God hardening our hearts and that will lead to more deviation. The first step may be slight, but it is a step away from sound doctrine and God may turn us over to our sinful hearts and the first step may be onto a slippery slope down. But we should also note with increasing nervousness that deviation from sound doctrine is not just a deviation and nothing else happens. That is also opening the door to the floods of error which will come in and destroy what is left. There is no middle ground where we can have less truth without more error coming in to fill up what was left.

When a professing church takes a step away from sound doctrine, the error begins to flow in and it appears that unless God decides to soften hearts rather than harden them the error will eventually consume that professing church. The true and living God is sovereign and whether man bows to that or not God is still sovereign. In fact, He is sovereign over whether men will bow to Him or not. It is part of the sound doctrine that men step away from that when they teach that they are not that depraved and God is not that sovereign. True repentance is not within the power of man to carry out, but instead it must be granted by God. But it may be that some still hold that teaching in their own creeds and perhaps to some degree they have that in their hearts, but they still do not see these as essential doctrines.

Over and over in the Old Testament God gave His people over to their enemies because they did not have hearts to seek Him. They had the outward ceremonies and they had the rites that they followed, but they did not love God. When they went after other gods, they demonstrated that they did not have knowledge of the true God. In America and across the world we still have people who will do the externals and the rites, but their hearts do not love God. They love a false god, but they do not love the true God. When that happens, we can see that God still hands people over to sinful hearts. In other words, they step back from the truth and error rushes in.

Christianity Today 14

February 17, 2020

When the long-standing pillars of orthodox theology and sound doctrine are abandoned, the overwhelming floods of error rush in to destroy what is left. I have attempted to detail those errors in this book, however, not everything covered in each sermon can be summarized here.

Although error has always been present in the church, the false theology which is so prevalent today gained a foothold under the Pelagian teachings of Nathaniel Taylor at Yale University who altered many basic Christian doctrines including man’s depravity, God’s sovereignty, Christ’s atonement, and regeneration, Taylor’s erroneous teachings were put into practice by Charles Finney who applied them to evangelism and introduced his New Measures into numerous churches through his revival meetings. Few pastors were willing to question Finney’s methods at the same time due to what seemed to be the apparent success he was having. Jonathan Edwards and 21st Century Evangelicalism, William C. Nichols

While the point of the above comment has to do with what happens when orthodox theology and sound doctrine are abandoned, there are other things in the church that are effected by this as well. It is not just that we can stop teaching a little doctrine here and here, but a change in doctrine at certain points can have an enormous influence on all aspects of the local church. In the present day people do not seem to think that doctrine is important, but the reality of the matter is that people don’t mind certain doctrines while they hate others. The list of doctrines from the quote above is really essential doctrines and when those are minimized the practice of the church will be different.

When God’s sovereignty is minimized, though it may be given lip service, evangelism will be for different. God will no longer be the focus man becomes the focus. When the depravity of man is minimized, man is thought to have the power to do things he cannot do. Man is not mostly dead with few abilities and little strength, but man is totally dead and has no spiritual ability and no spiritual strength at all. This means that once again God is no longer the center and is replaced by man. Instead of man crying out to God for a new heart and spiritual life, man looks to himself for some ability to come up with faith so that God will save him.

We can also easily see how this influences the practice and content of worship. When theology is minimized or on the way down from the truth of God, then the words of the music become centered upon man. Even if the words speak of God, the real focus is on man and how man feels. The music is used to play on the feelings of human beings rather than be a way that man can seek God and the presence of God. Despite how strange it sounds, church services become a way of suppressing the truth of God rather than a way of manifesting the truth of God. It takes the truth of who God is and how God rules in and on the earth in order to have the preaching of the Gospel of God and for there to be the true worship of God.

We can also notice a couple of important points at the end of the opening quote. “Few pastors were willing to question Finney’s methods at the same time due to what seemed to be the apparent success he was having.” One, people were reticent to question Finney regarding his methods because of the apparent success. Two, a person’s methods are built on a person’s theology (taken from the wider point of the quote). Three, the success was only apparent. The same thing is true today. It has been in Christian news that large pastors have told those with smaller churches that success (in numbers and dollars) trumps the criticisms that are received. Numerical and financial successes are confused with spiritual blessings.

When God is removed from the core and center of the church, any apparent success is really a curse of blindness. The church can keep an orthodox creed and yet the practice of the church and ministers are focused on success rather than God. A professing church that is growing in numbers may be a professing church that is moving farther and farther from the truth of God. When success becomes a god, the true and controlling theology of the professing church is no longer God-centered and the focus is now on the little gods of human beings. The ministers may say that they want success in order to honor God, but true and spiritual fruit must come from Him in order to be for Him. In that sense, professing churches need to repent of their apparent successes which are really idols.